FIRST RESPONDER PROFILE
Western Salisbury firefighter Nicholas Fisher recently completed a long, circuitous path to earn his national certification to become a physician assistant. And, at age 27, Fisher says he’s in exactly the right place in his life.
As a 2010 graduate of Salisbury High School, looking ahead to career preparations, Fisher saw three possible paths to pursue: a degree in paramedicine at the University of Pittsburgh, a five-year master’s degree program at DeSales University leading to a physician assistant certification or a fire science degree at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. He was accepted in each of the three educational institutions.
At that point though, as a high school senior, Fisher said, “my 18-year-old self saw the University of New Haven program as offering me the most flexibility.”
At that time he was also uncertain whether he wanted to commit to the long road necessary for a medical career.
Fisher chose the UNH program and in fall 2010 began his fire science curriculum with a major in arson investigation and a minor in criminal justice.
But, fate interjected a mid-course correction.
In his junior year at UNH, his curriculum called for a course that would train him to be an emergency medical technician.
“As I received my training and worked through emergency room shifts at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, I saw physician assistants, with seeming routine ease, help patients with very complex medical conditions. I was really inspired as I saw what these PAs were capable of and I began to realize how much I was enjoying the medical aspect of my training.”
As a senior at UNH, Fisher said he knew where he wanted to go next. After graduating with his fire science degree on a weekend in May 2014, he started right in on Monday taking the Lehigh Carbon Community College biomedical prerequisites he needed to begin his physician assistant degree program.
While working through those prerequisites, Fisher worked a full-time schedule as an EMT with the Cetronia Ambulance Corps.
At Western Salisbury Fire Department he worked his way through the ranks and served as a fire lieutenant, and as the fire company’s EMS officer, and helped maintain the fire company’s quick response service that certified the fire company to run serious medical calls.
Fisher’s father, William, joined the fire company at young Fisher’s urging while Nicholas was in his late teens. Both graduated from the Bucks County Community College Fire Academy Firefighter 1 course at the same time.
Both father and son recall fondly their first working fire together and high-fiving each other after they extinguished a fully-involved car fire at the Cedar Crest Boulevard exit of Interstate 78.
“My parents have been incredibly supportive through this whole educational journey with me and that has helped me maintain my focus on what was important,” Fisher said.
In 2017, after completing his biomedical courses at LCCC, Fisher began the physician assistant program at Arcadia University in Glenside, Montgomery County.
After two years of full-time study, Fisher graduated from Arcadia in May, took his board exams and earned his certification to practice medicine in Pennsylvania.
He recently signed an employment contract and in September will join the staff of a local hospital in its emergency department.
Fisher says his experience has left him with some gentle advice for young men and women graduating from high school and contemplating their next steps.
“It’s all right if, as a teenager, you are not sure what you want to do for the rest of your life. It would have been the wrong choice for me to jump right into medicine. My undergraduate program at UNH gave me time to see that a medical career was the right path for me.
“Keep your options open. Look for what will give you the flexibility, and time, to mature and see what seems right to you. Where I am now is exactly where I’m supposed to be and I am the happiest I have even been in my life,” Fisher said.