Olivia Brownley, PA-S Olivia Brownley, PA-S

It was finally here: my first day of clinical rotations! I never thought I could be so afraid and so excited about something all at once. Didactic year felt like it had gone by in a flash and our Bridge course zipped on by. What they say about PA school being like drinking from a firehouse is very true. I couldn’t possibly have kept all that information in my brain! What was I going to do? My mind was racing with thoughts. I was thrilled that my first rotation was primary care because I would have eight weeks to get exposure to just about everything. This was also the scary part — I was going to be working on just about everything. 

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Moe Paquette Moe Paquette

Last January I was in the middle of my didactic year, writing my first Duke Physician Assistant Program blog about my roots in Vermont and experiencing Cameron Indoor Stadium and Duke Basketball with my dad. Fast forward 18 months, and I have now finished my clinical year, received my certificate in the beautiful Duke Chapel, and will soon be taking the PANCE.

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Chi Nguyen Chi Nguyen, PA-S

It is hard to believe that there is only one week left of clinical year. Ten years ago when I was working as a manager for my family’s construction business, I didn’t even know what a PA was, much less think I’d be back in school, and married with a 3-year-old son. Now, six years after learning about this amazing profession, I will soon be a PA and have the privilege of being a trusted member of patients’ lives.

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Tiffani Chang Tiffani Chang, PA-S

Last winter, a video uploaded on YouTube went viral with over a million views. This popular video showed a small cub climbing up a steep, snow-covered slope in Eastern Russia. The cub repeatedly slips and falls down the treacherous slope as its mother waits at the top of the slope. This heart-wrenching, thrilling video shows the cub’s never-ending perseverance to succeed.  

As I reflect on my first year of PA school, I look back and picture myself as this cub throughout the year, constantly struggling and falling down. With the daily grind of lectures, assignments and exams, I wrestled with stress, fatigue, and discouragement as the intensity of the program persisted. I thought about what I need to prepare, what I need to study, and what I did not know. But like this cub, I had an incredible support system of classmates, family, friends, and Duke PA faculty — my mama and papa bears — that helped me keep my eyes set toward the top and remember my "why."

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Mowita Kensinger Mowita Kensinger, PA-S

A memory that I often think back on is that of being a young girl on my neighbor’s farm, peering out over the pasture, searching my thoughts for the reason that my heart did not quite feel settled. I did this often and could always trace it back to a feeling of excitement and joy, or worry and fear. Sometimes that fear was proportional to my stature: would I have to go home before the cows came in for the night and not get to sit on Queeny, the friendly white heifer, while she milked?

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