Sophi Scarnewman was born in Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1991. She grew up as the youngest of three siblings with parents who encouraged creativity, self-expression, and learning. As a child, she loved reading and outdoor play and has fond memories of exploring local open spaces on school field trips. When her father was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in her junior year of high school, Scarnewman decided to stay in the area for her undergraduate studies to be close by in an uncertain time. Thankfully, her father’s treatment was successful, and she was delighted to begin her studies at Stanford University with both parents in good health.
As an undergraduate, Scarnewman became involved in Stanford’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, which she went on to co-lead for two years. Alongside her nascent interest in health, she pursued her longstanding passion for the humanities and graduated with a BA in American Studies in 2013. True to Stanford’s ties with the tech industry, she also pursued computer science in her undergraduate years and worked at Google from 2013 to 2014 as an Associate Product Manager. This experience afforded her with rich opportunities to develop as a leader and hone project management and data analysis skills.
However, she realized that her passions lay elsewhere, and in 2015, she launched and managed Blackberry Babies, a birth doula business which provided non-clinical support to expecting parents. Although it was an unexpected transition from tech, Scarnewman reflects on this time as a return to her interest in reproductive health and peer support.
When she and her husband welcomed their own child in 2016, Scarnewman decided to pursue a career in healthcare. While completing healthcare prerequisites at local colleges, Scarnewman also worked as a medical scribe in Emergency Medicine at a nearby public hospital from 2018-19. She also volunteered at a local community health center as a medical scribe, eventually stepping into a paid role in clinic operations, electronic medical records, and quality improvement. This period from 2019-2021 was a formative experience, cementing a passion for social justice through healthcare.
In 2021, Scarnewman left her role at the community clinic to begin her Physician Assistant training in the Stanford University School of Medicine MSPA program. For her thesis, she completed a qualitative study of the experiences of student-parents in PA education and looks forward to continuing to conduct research over the years to come.
Scarnewman is currently the 2023 Student Trustee of the Physician Assistant History Society. As an avid writer she hopes to contribute to the Society through articles, research essays and biographies, and by conducting oral histories. Scarnewman sees her position as PAHx Student Trustee as a way to bridge the past of the profession with its future and also as a way to provide outreach to current PA students. Scarnewman currently lives with her son, husband, and father in Silicon Valley.
Acknowledgments: This biography was written by PA History Society staff with the assistance of Sophi Scarnewman. It was submitted to the Society in April of 2023. Photographs are courtesy of Ms. Scarnewman.