Cody Bulgarelli is a physician’s assistant at the Mountain View Health Center whose life has come full circle, returning to his hometown to provide medical care to the community he grew up in. Raised in Weldon, Bulgarelli embarked on an educational journey that eventually led him back to the San Joaquin Valley, where he is now making a significant impact in the field of healthcare.
“I grew up here and I grew up loving this area,”Cody Bulgarelli
Bulgarelli told the Kern Valley Sun.
“There’s a lot in the community. I played sports and had tons of volunteer opportunities from parents and other people and organizations in the valley that supported me.”
“I got a lot of support growing up here. I’m really thankful for that. So it does feel really good to come back and see people that help me grow up and they can help take care of their health care and work on getting healthier. It means a lot to be able to give that back because they said I definitely wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for the community here.”
Additionally, he and his wife, who also works in the medical field, have started a family in the Kern River Valley, where they are surrounded by their loved ones, further solidifying their connection to the region.
Bulgarelli attended Southfork and Kern Valley High School and his educational path took him to San Luis Obispo, where he pursued an undergraduate degree in biology at Cal Poly. His initial aspiration was to become a doctor, and he started by shadowing doctors and PAs to gain a better understanding of the medical field.
During his exploration of the medical field, Bulgarelli found the path to becoming a PA more appealing due to its smoother training process, which did not require the lengthy and grueling residency that doctors undergo. After this realization, he decided to enter PA school, but it was necessary to gain some medical experience before applying.
Bulgarelli returned to the San Joaquin Valley, where he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for a couple of years, obtaining valuable experience in the field. Subsequently, he pursued his PA education in Utah, where he spent a little over two years completing clinical rotations and gaining proficiency in various medical specialties.
Bulgarelli now works in family medicine, providing care to a wide range of patients. Bulgarelli emphasized PAs are capable of performing the same medical tasks and have similar responsibilities. They can diagnose, treat patients, write prescriptions and handle a wide array of medical conditions. The primary distinction is that PAs may not lead major surgical procedures, although they can assist in surgeries and perform minor procedures.
“During the schooling you still cover the entire same exact material. It’s just much, much more intensive in that regard that it’s all going to be done in a short span,” he said.
“But because of that, basically it allows more access to care. In the clinic, we have one doctor and we have four P.A.s. So without the P.A.s, we would be able to take way less care of people in the valley here.”
In addressing potential patient hesitancy to work with PAs instead of medical doctors (MDs), Bulgarelli encourages individuals to give it a try and see if they feel comfortable with a PA as their healthcare provider. He highlights that the provider-patient relationship is crucial, and the compatibility with a particular provider often matters more than their title.
“What gets me excited about it the most is when people really start to work on the things that make them healthier,” he said.
“Medications are great for what they do, but at this point in time where we can avoid them with exercise or a change in lifestyle. That’s what gets me the most fired up over there is when people come in and they’ve intended to lose weight and they’ve done it by changing whether eating or or what their what they’re doing with exercise. And we can get rid of medications or we can watch their blood pressure come down or diabetes get controlled.”
“Nothing gets me more excited for people than when they start doing those things that are pretty much the hardest part of it all. But when they start doing those and getting results. That’s what I love the most about that job.”Cody Bulgarelli