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From Feeling Uncertain to Finding Her Calling

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Elaine Svoboda, pictured above, is a physician assistant certified by the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants. She practices as a primary care provider at St Luke’s Laurentian Medical Clinic in Mountain Iron. 

“Bomb loader or respiratory therapist – those were my job choices,” explained Elaine Svoboda, PA-C, reminiscing about how she became a physician assistant at St. Luke’s. “I was in the Air Force and there were only two open jobs on base that I qualified for. I decided I was much more suited to becoming a respiratory therapist.” Looking back, she knows she made the right choice.

Prior to that moment, Elaine had never considered a career in the medical field. Once she started down that road, she quickly realized she was suited for it.

However, after serving as a respiratory therapist for 10 years, she started to feel restless. “I was caring for people in the hospital who were just so sick,” she said. “I wanted to do more for them. I was always wishing I could have helped them before they were hospitalized. I wanted to be part of keeping people healthy.” It was this desire that inspired Elaine to go back to school to become a physician assistant.

"I wanted to be part of keeping people healthy.”

Today she practices as a primary care provider at St Luke’s Laurentian Medical Clinic in Mountain Iron. She loves her work and how it benefits her community. “I’m helping people in a really practical way that makes a difference,” she said. “I love our community and contributing to making the people in it stronger and healthier.”

Elaine has even learned to appreciate the challenges of her work. “In a rural setting, there’s not a large facility that’s readily accessible,” she said. “My skillset has become more robust so we can do more for patients without them having to travel.”

Another challenge Elaine has faced is learning how to strike the right work-life balance. “There is always work I could be doing,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to learn when to call it a day. It’s not right to care for others at the neglect of yourself or your own family. You have to take a break and give your mind a rest so you can be refreshed and ready to go again the next day.”

Elaine is thankful to have found her calling in the medical field. For those who are unsure of what path to take, like she was, she recommends a career in health care. “The best part of being in health care is that you have such a chance to make a difference,” she said. “It can be challenging at times, but it’s incredibly meaningful work. When you’re part of a small neighborhood, someone being sick has a profound impact. Our patients are the community. They keep our economy in motion. So, when someone is out with a medical condition, it truly impacts the entire community.”

“Working at St. Luke’s Laurentian Medical Clinic is like being part of a family.”

Elaine is also thankful to be part of St. Luke’s. “Working at St. Luke’s Laurentian Medical Clinic is like being part of a family,” she said. “We’re a really close, cohesive team. I could not do my job without each and every one of them. We all care about each other. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

To learn more about Elaine and St. Luke’s Laurentian Medical Clinic, visit slhduluth.com/laurentian.

This article was originally published in the July 2022 issue of Hometown Focus.

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