Steven Bayer, School of PA Studies, ’17, knows precisely what it takes to work through challenges – intense resolve and lots of positivity. He hopes to share that message with his patients.
“I do everything in my power to achieve what I put my mind to,” says Bayer.
And Bayer has achieved much, despite some physical hurdles along the way.
His freshman year in college at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Bayer started experiencing bad headaches and vision problems. When he went in to the doctor to be checked, doctors found he had a blood clot in his brain. He underwent eight surgeries and had a shunt implanted in his brain. Surgeons couldn’t fix the entire blood clot, so he remains on blood thinners to this day.
But talk to Bayer about the experience, he sounds almost grateful for it. It led him to his current profession and taught him to appreciate life.
“Honestly, it was an eye-opener that life can be very short,” says Bayer. “I don’t let my diagnosis limit my life and control me. I live as happy as I can.”
It was during his time in the hospital in Colorado that he first learned of the PA field. A PA worked with him extensively in the hospital. He saw what an impact he had on him and others. He researched the field and even shadowed PAs. He’d found his life’s profession, he says.
“Becoming a PA, navigating through my clinical year, I couldn’t even imagine another profession,” says Bayer. “Talking with the patients and connecting, you leave at the end of the day and feel you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”
Perhaps Bayer’s grit was cemented as a child. He always had to work harder than others at sports to achieve his goals. He was born without a thumb on one hand and taught himself how to pitch. He rose all the way to playing on the varsity baseball team in high school. He also played soccer, basketball and skied.
His idol growing up was Major League Baseball player Jim Abbott, a pitcher for the California Angels and other teams who was born without a right hand. Abbott’s book – “Imperfect: An Improbable Life” – made a huge impact on Bayer. The book’s premise: Find something you love and go after it with all of your heart.
“He just wanted to prove his disability didn’t hold him back,” says Bayer. “That’s how I’ve taken everything in life. All the people who’ve doubted me along the way, I wanted to prove them wrong and show them nothing will hold me back.”
“I worked three times as hard,” he adds.
Bayer passes on his philosophy of personal power to his patients. For instance, if a patient talks about how he is having trouble bringing his blood sugar down, he encourages him.
“It helps me encourage them,” he says of his experiences. “I say – ‘Yes you can. If you put your mind to it and you don’t let your disease control you.’”
Bayer was born and raised in Vermont, but plans to stay after graduation in the San Diego area where he now lives with his future spouse. He hopes to practice in a primary care setting because that’s where “there is the most need in all of health care.”