First Year Student Blog: Taylor Bell

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Taylor Bell, PA-S
Taylor Bell, PA-S

One year ago, I was sitting at home reading Duke University physician assistant student blogs in an attempt to understand what it would take to become a PA student at such a great school. Little did I know, one year later I would be sitting here at the Duke Physician Assistant Program (DPAP) writing my very own student blog for future PA school applicants to read. I want every hopeful candidate out there who reads this to know that you are capable of getting into an amazing PA program. If you are patient, work hard, and show your passion, success will inevitably follow. Here is my story.

I went on a number of interviews during my application cycle, but I could not help but notice that Duke was the only program to call themselves a family. The “DPAP family” they kept saying. While most programs talk about their PANCE pass rates, Duke talks about their inclusivity and devotion to their students. I felt comfortable and welcome on my interview. I loved everything about this school; the location, the faculty and staff, and the incredible resources Duke has to offer to their students.

Still, I tried not to get my hopes up after my interview here. Thus far, my previous interviews had resulted in a spot on the dreaded waitlist. A Duke acceptance? Forget about it. Two weeks later, I was placed on the waitlist here, and shortly after that I began to fear that I would not be accepted here or anywhere, and would not be going to PA school at all. Ever since I found out about the PA profession, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. PA’s have the perfect amount of independence as providers, and have the opportunity to interact with patients on a daily basis. Both concepts sounded so appealing to me. I knew that if I didn't get into a PA program, then I would never have the opportunity to pursue my dream profession. Obviously, I would not have given up after one application cycle; I probably would have gone through endless cycles of rejection to become a PA. However, rejection is never fun, so receiving waitlist after waitlist was discouraging.

'I felt like an imposter'

To my surprise, not long after my placement on the waitlist, while I was at work, I got an email from the Duke Physician Assistant Program. I opened the email, saw the ‘Congratulations,’ and immediately started running through the halls of my work in excitement, and promptly called my parents to share the news. An overwhelming sense of gratitude, relief, and excitement coursed through me, and I don’t think that feeling ever went away.

When I arrived at Duke a few months later, I was incredibly nervous. As I’m sure many students feel in the beginning, I felt like an imposter; like somehow Duke made a mistake in accepting me, and I would get the call any day telling me that they sent me the wrong email. My classmates and I joke about imposter syndrome, but I won’t lie, it was a real thing in the beginning of my PA school didactic year.

What combated this imposter syndrome were my classmates; we all have developed this incredible sense of camaraderie and support that I never expected to have with such a large class. Whether it’s a student sharing their knowledge of current subject matter so that the rest of us are better prepared for an exam, or a classmate offering to share their study guide that they undoubtedly spent hours completing just so we all have a better chance to succeed, my fellow classmates and friends are there for each other always. Competition does not exist at DPAP. We all come from incredibly diverse backgrounds (another aspect of DPAP that I love), and we share our knowledge so that our entire class can become better providers.

Every day when I drive to class, I pull into our parking lot and look at the program building in awe, still wondering how it is possible to say that I am a student in the Duke Physician Assistant Program. I am surrounded by the most loving, kind, accomplished, and inspiring classmates and educators. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to grow at this program and become the best provider I can possibly be.

Taylor Bell 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.