MPAS Alum Mike Cheesman Reflects on Balancing PA and Family Life

by | Sep 14, 2021 | Blog

Contributing Author(s):
Headshot of Mike Cheesman

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) Alumnus Mike Cheesman, PA-C, ATC, works as a physician assistant (PA) in orthopaedic surgery at Wabash General Hospital in Mount Carmel, Illinois, where he sees patients in both clinical and surgical settings. With a busy work schedule as a PA, Cheesman has learned to balance his role as a father, educator, and healthcare provider.

Prior to his role as a PA at Wabash General Hospital, he served as the head athletic trainer (AT) for eight years. In 2015, he decided to return to school and enrolled in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program at RMUoHP. But for him, working as an AT provided valuable experience that helped prepare him for life as a PA. “Those years as an AT gave me perspective in healthcare, appreciation for collaborating within a healthcare team, and hands-on experience that has given me great value even to this day as a PA,” said Cheesman.

While in school, Cheesman found ways to be successful despite the rigorous and demanding course load. “The greatest success I had as a student was being able to say wholeheartedly at the end of each day of going through the grind of the MPAS program, that I gave my best and I am proud of the direction my life was going,” said Cheesman. 

Since graduating and now working as a PA, Cheesman enjoys the flexibility of seamlessly shifting from one area of medicine to the next. “So if I’m being led to change settings from orthopaedics to pediatrics to behavioral health or any other area of medicine, I can do that,” said Cheesman. 

Working as a PA, however, comes with its own set of challenges. “One of those difficulties is making sure that you have the correct priorities and being able to balance your personal life and work life,” said Cheesman. It can require effort to ensure that work-life does not overtake home life. “Luckily,” said Cheesman, “I work for an employer that continually makes efforts in balancing those two, and I work with colleagues who work well collectively to make everyone’s jobs manageable and enjoyable.” 

Cheesman added, “Another way that I balance my work and personal life is by making sure I make time for the things that matter most to me. For example, I make time to go on walks with my family, get involved with our church’s praise and worship team, have dinner and movie nights with my entire family every week, and much more. Maintaining what’s important to me is a priority.” 

Having gone through the rigors of the MPAS program and now working in the field, Cheesman offers advice for prospective PAs and other healthcare providers. “Being perfect doesn’t happen, and if you work as hard as you can and you barely pass, at the end of the day you still passed. 

He added, “Get involved with your student lead organization and with the university’s events because they are a great time and good stress relief from a laborious and demanding education.” 

Cheesman obtained his MPAS from RMUoHP in 2017 and now serves as the secretary and treasurer for the RMUoHP Alumni Association Board representing the PA profession. For more information about the RMUoHP Alumni Association Board, visit rm.edu/alumni.