Second Year Student Blog: Ann Lin

Monday, September 17, 2018

Ann Lin, PA-S
Ann Lin, PA-S

The things you don’t learn in the classroom

When I think back to didactic year, it’s a blur colored by a mad dash of learning pathophysiology, clinical guidelines, and diagnostics. You name it, we learned it. Outside of lecture, we even had the opportunity to learn different skills for interviewing and the theory behind effective clinical encounters through standardized patients. It was hectic, to say the least. But by the end of the year, I felt ready for clinical rotations.

Starting out my clinical year on the wards, though, I was quickly confronted with all the things I had yet to learn. Yes, part of this was higher-level clinical application of the things I learned in Room 208 at the Duke Physician Assistant Program, but it went much deeper than that. In the bubble of the classroom, I learned about epidemiology and prognostic indicators. On the wards, I met and took care of the people who fell into those categories. During standardized patient cases, I practiced skills to counsel patients receiving difficult diagnoses. In the hospital, I delivered bad news and learned that part of supporting my patients is standing in silence, giving them space to receive life-altering news.

At the Duke PA program building, I learned through lectures what role different members of the health care team could play in patient care. On the floor, I was part of the team made up of different health care providers working in concert, all with the goal of offering the best care we possibly could to our patients. In the classroom, I learned what can make the human body frail. In practice, I am learning every day what makes the human spirit so resilient.

As much as I have learned in the first seven weeks of clinical rotations, I am struck every day by just how much there still is to learn. Yet, day by day, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to be building up clinical knowledge that is shaped by my team members and my patients in ways I could never gain solely from the classroom.

I made the decision to become a PA because I loved the idea of being a lifetime learner. At the time, I thought that meant constantly learning new aspects of medicine. But being in my first clinical rotations, I see that part of what I learn every day is what it means to have a hand in taking care of not just labs and medications, but people.

Though I still have so much to learn, one thing I know I have gained already is that it is an honor to be where I am and to one day serve as a physician assistant.

Ann Lin is a second-year PA student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email with questions.
Editor’s note: Duke Physician Assistant Program students blog twice a month. Blogs represent the opinion of the author, not the Duke Physician Assistant Program, the Department of Community and Family Medicine or Duke University.