First Year Student Blog: Amber Fatima

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Ambre Fatima, PA-S
Ambre Fatima, PA-S

I left for the 2018 conference of the American Academy of Physician Assistants in New Orleans the day after of our pediatrics exam, along with 45 other classmates. We were off for a whole week to attend the conference and I could not wait for this much-deserved short break. As I was looking through the conference schedule, I learned that Kenneth F. Ferrell, PA, would be making an appearance at the Physician Assistant History Society booth. Mr. Ferrell is one of the first PAs in the nation, having graduated in the Duke PA program’s first class in 1967. Dr. Eugene Stead, founder of the PA profession, had personally interviewed and selected him.

Amber Raza and Ken FerrellIt was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet a legend who had paved the way for so many PAs. He was also a fellow and founding member of AAPA, and I was the only student from our class who had the privilege of meeting him. I brought along our Class of 2019 T-shirt for Mr. Ferrell to autograph, and as I waited for him to arrive, I glanced through the PA History Society booth. A plethora of historical treasures was there for us newbies to learn about the inception and progress of the profession, including quotes from Dr. Stead and many other memorabilia including pictures from the past. I felt a moment of pride to be associated with Duke and share the same platform as him. 

As Mr. Ferrell came up the escalator, I felt a sudden adrenaline rush. As he arrived at the booth, I introduced myself. He shook my hand very warmly and gave me a friendly smile. After the initial formalities, I requested his autograph and a picture, which he accepted very graciously. He was very humble in his demeanor and I was very thankful that he took time out of his busy schedule to have a meet-and-greet session.

Mr. Ferrell’s presence and our brief encounter touched me on so many levels. Since I started the PA program at Duke, I have seen his picture on the wall, along with his two other 1967 classmates, and I never envisioned I would have the opportunity to meet him. It was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with one of the founders of the profession, and it gave me new motivation to keep going and follow in his footsteps.

Amber Fatima 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.