October 4, 2023
Busy PA Student and PA Help Others Through Blogs
September 25, 2018
By Jennifer Walker
PAs who are moms are getting in on the blogging trend. Parents Jennifer Philogene, a PA student, and Onyi Azih, PA-C, have carved out time to share their knowledge and build a community online. Here, they talk about why they blog and how they balance their creative outlet with work and family.
Jennifer Philogene, mom to Amara, age 6
When single mom Jennifer Philogene decided to apply to PA school, she and her then four-year-old daughter, Amara, were spending a lot of time together: cooking, having spa days at the nail salon, hanging out in their neighborhood. Philogene knew that PA school would change that. “The main concern was my daughter,” she says. “How was I going to raise a child and succeed in school? Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible.”
But Philogene took the leap. She is now a second-year PA student at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; in August, she started her first rotation in family medicine. Amara, now age 6, was initially angry that her mom was away so often, but she now has a closer relationship with her father, has improved her social skills because she’s spending more time with other kids, and has become more independent. “PA school has benefited both of us,” Philogene says.
Wanting to inspire other pre-PA moms, Philogene, a former medical lab specialist with the U.S. Army, has started a blog, The PA Café. “I thought about the blog because when I was on my pre-PA journey, I wanted to hear from another parent,” she says. “There weren’t any resources that I really found like that.” She published her first article on The PA Café in January of this year.
The PA Café: A Blog for Pre-PA Moms
Philogene posts on The PA Café once a week, writing about topics such as balancing life, budgeting and finances, and meal prep. She also has regular “A Day in the Life” posts that show how other moms are balancing the demanding PA school schedule with their responsibilities as parents. In her posts, Philogene is honest about how difficult PA school can be—“The PA program by itself feels like the floodgates of hell have opened and swallowed you alive,” she writes half-jokingly—but she is also encouraging, frequently telling moms if they really want to be PAs, they can do it.
For moms who have already decided to go to PA school, Philogene recommends they start with The Pre-PA Mom QuickStart Guide on her blog. Here, she advises pre-PA moms to have a plan before they start school. This includes answering who, what, when, where, why, and how questions, such as “Why do you want to be a PA?” and “Who is going to help you?“ “I know things don’t always go according to plan,” she says. “But it’s nice to have a blueprint to refer back to when things go awry.”
Philogene knows how scary it can be to apply to PA school as a parent. She began the process of applying with two other moms, but the other moms stopped the process because they didn’t think it was possible to balance PA school with kids. “I’m like, ‘Of course it’s possible,’” Philogene says. “What I want readers to get out of my blog is that just because you have children or the fact that you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to stop everything. Don’t let your responsibilities at home be the determining factor in your future career. The kids aren’t going anywhere, so just jump in.”
Onyi Azih, mom to Gozie and Kezie, ages 2 and 1
Onyi Azih, PA-C, started blogging seven years ago because she wanted to document her journey as a PA student at Touro University in Henderson, Nevada. When she became engaged, she shifted focus and starting blogging about having a fabulous wedding on a budget. Then, in 2017, Azih, who works full-time as a PA at a stand-alone clinic in San Antonio, Texas, found her niche: She launched Sincerely Onyi, a lifestyle blog.
Sincerely Onyi: A Blog About Motherhood, Lifestyle, and Travel
On Sincerely Onyi, Azih writes about lifestyle and travel topics; recent articles include “Why I Make Optimism a Lifestyle” and “Best Local Dishes All Over the U.S.” Also, as a mom of two boys, she frequently writes about parenting and being a working mom in posts such as how to make the most of toddler swim lessons, the 10 essentials to include in a nursery, and how working outside of the home makes her a better mom.
Through her blog, Azih has built a strong community of people, from pre-PA students to moms to African-American women in healthcare. “I take a lot of time to connect with each person, and that’s what has helped me relate to my followers,” says Azih, who has nearly 15,000 followers on Instagram.
That ability to build a community has allowed her to turn blogging into a part-time job. Azih has partnered with brands like Gerber, Sprouts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Texas Department of Transportation to create sponsored content. When working with companies, “I create a message around my life, then I incorporate how a company’s product has helped me or I give life tips that incorporate the product,” she says.
Azih, who is Nigerian-American, also has a reason for blogging that has remained the same even as her content has changed. “I want to make sure others see people who look like them,” she says. “That’s something that is most important to me because it’s something I struggled with from childhood on, wanting to see someone I could relate to so I could know what was possible.”
So how does Azih, who spends at least 10 hours a week working on her blog, balance being a full-time PA, a part-time blogger, and a mother to two young boys?
“I have a focus and a drive when I do things,” she says. During her three 12-hour shifts a week, Azih, who is passionate about being a PA, focuses on her patients. She may use her lunch break to work on a blog post or study for exams; in August, for example, she was studying for her PA recertification. After work and on her days off, she focuses on her kids. Then after they go to bed, Azih works on her blog. “For me, I’m happiest when I’m busy,” she says.
Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer in Baltimore, MD. Contact Jennifer at [email protected].
 These are the online pseudonyms that Azih uses for her children’s names.