Second Year Student Blog: Anthony Sciulli

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Anthony Sciulli, PA-S

I look back fondly on my high school human physiology class, not for the content, but for the experience itself.  Like most high school students, I lacked insight on what I would like to pursue in life and took the honors level class largely to “look good” on my college applications. The teacher, who coincidentally played football for and graduated from Duke, was tough. Within the first three days of school I realized the class itself was a far cry from any class I had ever taken. All notes were to be written by hand, multiple quizzes were administered per week, and we only had two large exams throughout the semester.

What I remember most though, is how enjoyable the course was despite its difficulty. Regardless of the topic, the teacher lectured with an infectious passion that engaged everyone in the room. Hand writing notes, which I admittedly balked at in the beginning, became my preferred way to learn and the weekly quizzes became an integral part of the learning process. Toward the end of the year, he took us to the local university hospital where we watched a coronary artery bypass surgery from the overhead observatory. I remember asking the hospital’s liaison, “Who is using that camera to get the vein out of the leg?” to which I was told, “That’s our team’s PA; she’s incredibly skilled and harvests the venous grafts for all of our procedures.”

Fast forward a few years, and I am writing this blog post as I fly back to Durham from the Physician Assistant Education Association’s 2017 Education Forum in Denver. At the forum, educators from PA programs across the country, including almost the entire Duke Physician Assistant Program faculty, attended the week-long event to hone their educational skills, collaborate with other educators, and learn best practices for teaching PA students. As a student, I was able to attend as part of the 2017-2018 Future Educator Fellowship Program where myself and 14 other PA students from various programs could take part in the various lectures, programming, and networking events.


The fellowship program itself is open to any first- or second-year PA student who has an interest in PA education, and involves attendance at both the 2017 and 2018 forums, with a year spent working with a faculty mentor in the interim. Over the course of three days, we covered topics such as lesson plan building, advocacy for the PA profession, mentorship development, and career pathways of PA educators. Like my aforementioned high school class however, what struck me most about the forum wasn’t what I learned, but the experience itself. Within the educational community, traditional rivalry between schools is nonexistent; there is no sense of competition, and all advancements in methodology are shared and broadcasted so that even the newest programs can be fostered into the group. It was truly humbling to see hundreds of individuals representing both established and new programs coming together for the common goal of teaching PA students to be both competent and compassionate providers.

As I’m sure you already know, the PA profession continues to develop and grow at a feverish pace. While there certainly continues to be a need for clinicians, there also exists an increasing need for practicing PAs to contribute to the education and training of PA students. In almost all cases, clinical care and educational involvement aren’t mutually exclusive. Especially after attending the forum, I learned that so many educators, and again the Duke faculty serving as a prime example, balance clinical care with lecturing, course development, and admissions. 

I remember reading these blog posts as an applicant and never could have imagined how fast PA school could have gone by, or how soon I would be considering such aspects of my career.  While I can only hope to be as skilled at teaching as my high school teacher or Duke faculty, I can’t imagine a better way to serve both my patients and profession than to become involved in the education of future providers.

Anthony Sciulli was a second-year PA student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program.

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.