First Year Student Blog: Rachel Solomon

Friday, September 28, 2018

Rachel Solomon, PA-S
Rachel Solomon, PA-S

A Warm Welcome to PA School

When I started PA school at Duke, I felt the normal flurry of excitement and anxiety that accompanies starting any new chapter of life. I was excited to meet my classmates and become a student again after a couple years working as a medical assistant, but I was slightly worried about the large size of the program. I came from a university with a small class size and real community feel and was concerned I would be just a number in a class of 90 students. However, orientation week allayed my fears and surpassed my expectations, as the faculty welcomed us into the Duke family and introduced us to the rich resources now at our fingertips. My classmates and the faculty are the friendliest, most accomplished and diverse group of people, and I am thrilled to have joined the Duke community. 

During orientation, the Duke Physician Assistant Program went above and beyond making sure that students felt welcomed and supported by the Duke community. Before orientation week even started, my assigned student mentor (a current second-year PA student) contacted me and wanted to meet up over brunch to share tips for surviving and thriving during didactic year, and it was comforting to know a friendly face in the program before things even got started. Additionally, Duke paired each student to a faculty advisor for meetings, questions, and guidance. A couple weeks into the semester, I met one-on-one with my advisor, and she took the time to get to know me personally. She made sure I was adjusting well to my new environment and offered herself as a contact if I ever I had questions or needed guidance. I appreciated being welcomed into school with two innate support systems I could turn to if I ever needed any help. 

Rachel Solomon and friendsIn addition to feeling reassured by the phenomenal welcome into the Duke family, I felt blown away during orientation by the resources for success Duke offers to all students. I had no idea graduate students had access to Duke’s student health center, wellness center, fitness centers, libraries, and a plethora of other campus services and facilities. I really felt that Duke values the holistic wellness of its students and encourages extracurricular activities to promote mindfulness, health, and friendship. Within the first week, I tried group fitness classes at the Brodie Gym, went running with classmates on Duke Forest trails, and visited the Duke Lemur Center. There were so many exciting new activities to get involved in, and I continue to find out about new opportunities on a daily basis.  

Finally, the atmosphere created by the people in the Duke Physician Assistant Program is supportive, collaborative, and non-competitive. Being a part of such a large class means a variety of experiences and diversity of backgrounds. We form study groups, share tips, and exchange ideas. We are a big team, and we get to work together through the joys and difficulties PA school presents. I feel fortunate to be involved in this inclusive community of ambitious and passionate students. 

Duke impressed me during orientation and continues to impress me with its dedication to inclusivity and wellness. While I know this year will come with stress and difficult exams, I am glad to know that I am going through it all with a wonderful group of classmates, and that we are well-supported by the faculty and the Duke community at large. 

Rachel Solomon is a first-year 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.