Grace Johnson, PA-S Grace Johnson, PA-S

Art was my earliest and greatest love. It defined and carried me through childhood, adolescence, and into early adulthood. As a young person I imagined a future where my fingers were trained to use paintbrushes, not scalpels. In high school I enrolled in all the art classes my disapproving guidance counselor would allow. I had solo art exhibitions, and I received commissions. Art seemed like the only future to me; I identified as an artist, and not much else.

[Grace Johnson] It came as no surprise to me, then, when I struggled in math and science in high school and had to be transferred into more remedial courses. It eventually came time to take the SAT and I spent the entire 180 minutes hunched over that piece of paper filling in bubbles with answers I did not know, fighting the urge to instead draw a picture over my Scantron. I believed my score was proof that I was not capable of pursuing a college degree. I accepted that score. After all, I was an artist, not an academic.

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Hannah Hayes, PA-S Hannah Hayes, PA-S

The clinical year of PA school is fun and exciting, but also challenging and exhausting. As we finish our fifth rotation and are in the middle of the holiday season it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past few months and say thank you to all those who support my classmates and me.

The day before my first clinical year rotation began, I drove to Fayetteville — an hour and a half from Durham — to settle into my out-of-town housing where I would stay for the next month. I was lucky enough that being out of town was not too far away and I was able to go home on weekends, but it was still the most time I’d spent away from my toddler daughter. I video chatted with her twice a day but it was still so difficult to be far away from her. I wanted to hug and kiss her and felt like I was missing out.

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Greg Reinhart Greg Reinhart, PA-S

In 2009, I was notified that my close friend, and fellow Navy Corpsman (medic) was killed in action, and as the designated combat casualty replacement, I would be replacing him immediately. A week later, I found myself in northeastern Kunar province, Afghanistan — 50 miles from the hostile Pakistan border. I was the primary medical provider for four fellow Marines and 30 Afghan National Army soldiers on our small combat outpost. Our mission was to embed with these local soldiers and mentor them on tactics and leadership, as well as conduct regular patrols and missions with them.

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Taylor Bell, PA-S Taylor Bell, PA-S

One year ago, I was sitting at home reading Duke University physician assistant student blogs in an attempt to understand what it would take to become a PA student at such a great school. Little did I know, one year later I would be sitting here at the Duke Physician Assistant Program (DPAP) writing my very own student blog for future PA school applicants to read. I want every hopeful candidate out there who reads this to know that you are capable of getting into an amazing PA program. If you are patient, work hard, and show your passion, success will inevitably follow. Here is my story.

I went on a number of interviews during my application cycle, but I could not help but notice that Duke was the only program to call themselves a family. The “DPAP family” they kept saying. While most programs talk about their PANCE pass rates, Duke talks about their inclusivity and devotion to their students. I felt comfortable and welcome on my interview. I loved everything about this school; the location, the faculty and staff, and the incredible resources Duke has to offer to their students.

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Melanie Overcash, PA-S Melanie Overcash, PA-S

“You’re comfortable with babies, right?” It was a simple question being asked of me by my pediatrics preceptor on the first day of the rotation. I considered the different avenues I could go with my response:

“I’m great with babies!” was an option, and would certainly have put my preceptor at ease, but it was not the truth. I didn’t really know if I was comfortable with babies because I had never been around one before. (Somehow, I had gotten through 26 years of life without encountering anyone younger than two years old.)

So, I decided to go with the truth and responded, “I’ve actually never held a baby … or really ever been around a baby.” The response definitely caught my preceptor’s attention, and after the worried look receded, he reassuringly said, “Well, we’ll change that.”

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