First Year Student Blog: Hannah Hayes

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hannah Hayes, PA-S

It’s the Saturday of Thanksgiving break as I write this and my one-year-old daughter is asleep in the other room. This break from school has not gone according to plan; few things do with a toddler. She is laid up with a sinus infection and the Amoxicillin she was prescribed has been making her vomit periodically for the past four days. Needless to say, I have not gotten as much studying (or sleep) in as I had planned. However, I cannot help but feel both lucky and proud.

It was the end of November last year when my husband and I flew from our home in California all the way to Durham with our then six-week-old daughter so I could interview for the Duke Physician Assistant Program. We felt a little crazy and I was not quite sure how or if I would pull this off. When I was accepted and we decided to go for it and make the 3,000-mile move, our friends and family thought we were a little crazy.

“Wow, you’re really taking a lot on.”

“A baby and grad school — are you sure?”

“You just had a baby and now you’re moving away from everyone you know?”

I certainly felt nervous and unsure at first myself, but now, a year later and just three weeks away from completing my first semester at Duke, I have to say, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Sure, it is tough sometimes, especially getting up in the morning for an exam after spending most of the night awake with a sick baby, but there is nothing like baby snuggles to help you de-stress and keep things in perspective when you are bogged down in assignments and exams.

I have had to learn to balance my time and be more efficient when studying, but I also feel lucky that I have the best excuse to take study breaks and I never feel guilty about doing so. And to tell you the truth, kids make great study partners as long as you make an engaging performance out of it. My daughter never gets tired of hearing me explain kidney function, recite medication names, or practice my physical exam and history-taking.

During orientation at Duke, faculty and staff told us repeatedly that one of the greatest tools we can poses as PAs is flexibility, because PA school and medical practice rarely go according to plan. If there is one thing parents develop in spades, it’s flexibility. Parenthood does not go according to plan. Our PA Class of 2019 is made up of so many different types of people from so many different places and backgrounds who have come together to pursue this shared dream. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and I hope when my daughter grows up, she won’t be afraid to pursue her dreams, too.


Hannah Hayes is a second-year PA student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email hannah.hayes@duke.edu with questions.

Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog every month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Community and Family Medicine or Duke University.