Maria Trescony Maria Trescony, PA-S

I couldn’t help but think of the great irony I was embarking on during my first day working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home during college. The residents that wheeled and shuffled around before me were a far cry from the young, healthy athletes I dreamed of working with as a physical therapist when I started college. I chose the field of health care because I looked forward to seeing sick people get healthy again, and, being an athlete myself, I couldn’t think of a better way to help people than to see injured athletes healed and returning to their active lives again.

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Ben Garfinkel Ben Garfinkel, PA-S

The plant was passed down to me from a graduating Duke PA student only days after I first arrived in Durham. Its tortuous limbs and countless vibrant green leaves caught my eye. I requested plant care instructions. “Just water it once a week!” she suggested.

I took the plant home and placed it on my desk. Only shortly thereafter, it started to lose leaves. Just a few at first, but soon they started to fall off in droves. The leaves would accumulate on my desk overnight, quickly turning yellow and curling up. I tried adjusting the watering schedule, but the leaves kept falling. I started to feel guilty about the plant. It was in perfect condition when I received it, so why was it dying? What had I done wrong?

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Pooja Parmar Pooja Parmar, CCRP, PA-S

Without hesitation, I happily call the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, often referred to as “The Triangle,” my home. I was born and raised in Raleigh and spent my last two years of high school attending the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham where I grew my thirst for knowledge, which only continued as I completed my undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill. I moved away for a few years, and yet, somehow, I found myself back in Durham working, and shortly after, accepted into the Duke Physician Assistant Program.

After almost seven clinical rotations into my second year of PA school, it feels like an impossible task to take stock of everything that has happened in the last year and half. I have learned more information than I ever imagined possible. The Duke faculty, distinguished guest lecturers, my fellow classmates, and my rotation preceptors have all contributed to my education, and it is now my turn to utilize my education and pass on the benefits to patients I encounter.

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Britta Weed, PA-S Britta Weed, PA-S

“You’re shy?” I remember my new freshman college roommate asking me. We were discussing what course of study each of us was pursuing, and the conversation had focused on why I had chosen to study medical laboratory science. In all honesty, I had chosen the major because I liked the idea of working by myself, away from people.

Now, almost 10 years later, I ask myself, “How is it that a shy lab tech is so excited about patient care?” I have worn many different hats in my life, but the one that I am currently wearing, that of a physician assistant student, has been one of the most rewarding ones so far. That is because I am doing the one thing that I was so hesitant to do when I was a freshman in college: work with people.

So, how did the tides change enough for me to decide to pursue a career where you interact with patients nearly all day, every day? The answer lies within the power of human connection. The relationship that occurs when people openly express their vulnerability, in the context of health care, pulled me out of my shell.

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Patrick Whitman Patrick Whitman, PA-S

It’s a question we remember being asked from our earliest memories: What do you want to be when you grow up? (For me, I wanted to be a fighter pilot.) It’s a ridiculous question to ask a child, but gets more serious as you work your way into adulthood. Deciding what career you want will help determine where you study, where you live and the people you will call your peers.

You’re asked a similar question in PA school: What do you want to specialize/practice in? As a first-year student, you have ideas of the type of medicine you might want to practice. Some of us are adamant about working in a specific field from Day 1, while others don’t know. The truth of the matter is that a new PA student is as prepared to answer that question as a child is to know what they want to be when they grow up.

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