First Year Student Blog: Valerie Mock

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Valerie Mock, PA-S

What a whirlwind! Years ago, I felt like PA school would never come. As a business school graduate with an MBA, I had to start from scratch for every single prerequisite. I enjoyed the process — working during the day, taking science courses after work and volunteering in the NICU on the weekends. This became my life for years, and I was happy. Then all of the sudden, it was time for CASPA, then supplemental essays, and finally interview season. On Oct. 11, 2016, all my hard work paid off when I received my acceptance to the Duke Physician Assistant Program.

The next 10 months flew by. I worked long hours to save money and tried to spend as much time as possible at the beach and with my friends before putting my pets in the car and driving from Palm Beach, Fla., to Durham, N.C. The trip was surreal — 12 hours in total, taking six hours just to reach the northern border of Florida — and my pets surprised me by behaving perfectly. 

Prior to school, I was utilizing my Healthcare MBA and working in medical practice acquisitions. This was a lucrative career path, purposefully executed to save as much money as possible before taking a two-year hiatus from a paycheck. I worked very closely with doctors and PAs and enjoyed learning about optimizing medical practices, financially valuating medical offices and the ins-and-outs of provider employment contracts. It was a fine job and came much more effortlessly to me than the rigorous science courses that I am currently taking, but I have always kept my eye on the prize — becoming a PA and delivering great patient care. I believe I can make a bigger difference by working directly with patients than the business side.

‘Durham is growing on me’

I admit to originally not being thrilled about moving to North Carolina and leaving behind the beach and sunshine of south Florida; however I was so grateful for the opportunity, that

Valerie Mock with her dogI just accepted it as part of the process. Then shortly after the move, I discovered sweet tea and biscuits. Then my first North Carolina fall came, and I saw the most beautiful season I have ever experienced. I even enjoy saying “’y’all” which feels more appropriate than saying “you guys,” regardless of with whom I was communicating. Durham is growing on me and has turned out to be a lovely place to live.

My darling 14-year-old cat, Chanel, and puffy 3-year-old Pomeranian, Petunia, have been my sanity during a very chaotic and extremely challenging preclinical year. Having “fur-babies” has helped me to pay attention to the other parts of my day, outside of PA school. Regardless of how tired or stressed I am, they still need to be cared for. Petunia has been a good sport, allowing me to practice my physical exam skills on her, and she sits and listens patiently while I also practice oral case presentations.

Although this is the most challenging opportunity that I have ever had, this year is certainly not without a great deal of fun. I remember my first Duke men’s basketball game; just being in Cameron Indoor Stadium and the energy of the team and fans was magical. I have enjoyed taking my family hiking throughout North Carolina when they visit during my breaks and both my dog and I had a great time playing in the snow during multiple snow days. At a little over halfway through preclinical year, I am anxious to continue learning and extremely eager to put all this good knowledge to use next year.



Valerie Mock is a second-year PA student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email 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.