Mike Wells at his 2012 graduation ceremony

Saving lives is a dream for TUC graduate Mike Wells.

The inception for this vision stemmed years ago, when he worked with his uncle – a paramedic – during ambulance runs. He was fascinated by the "interventions that would have a direct impact on patient lives."

"Ever since then, I wanted to go into medicine. I went to Emergency Medical Technician school and worked as an EMT for five years," he says enthusiastically. "You're saving a life and you see the results right there."

He admits this impact created a fascination for Cardiothoracic surgery (heart surgery), which first led Mike to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies & Master of Public Health at Touro University California.

"Not many programs offer the dual degree program like at Touro," he states. "Once I came across this program, I knew it would be good to pursue."

But the Denver-born, drum-playing student didn't stop there. His passion to make a difference among patients propelled Mike to pursue his dream and in May, was accepted to the Physician Assistant Postgraduate Cardiothoracic Surgical Residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.

"It's incredible . . . They only accept one resident into this program." he declares, who incidentally also declined an offer from Yale University. "This is very exciting for me!"

Mike credits part of his success to TUC's rotation program, which helped solidify his decision to pursue Cardiothoracic surgery. As part of the program at Touro, students must complete nine rotations. And of these, he says, it was his trip to Ethiopia that left the biggest impact.

"I participated in a research project with one of my classmates and looked at self-treatment practices of patients with Malaria," he recollects. "We found they like to use garlic in food or rubbed over the body to help with symptoms."

But the determined student went a step further. He spent quality time with the locals by visiting their homes, sharing cups of coffee, and playing soccer at the local park.

"They were really good players. It was interesting to see how some kids had shoes, some had sandals, and some played barefoot," Mike recalls and adds, "The ball was stuffed with hay to prevent it from being flat. They don't' have the funds to buy a needle to pump air."

As a way of helping the community, Mike and the remaining Touro students combined their funds and together, purchased medical supplies for the local clinic.

"I made a lot of friends in Ethiopia, and I plan on going back one day," he says.

A student can earn two master degrees in 32 months: A Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a Master of Public Health. The integration of these two professions means that in their clinical practice, TUC alums are trained to see both the individual and the community in which they live. To learn more about the the Physician Assistant Program, click here.