Second Year Student Blog: Hannah Hayes

Monday, December 31, 2018

Hannah Hayes, PA-S
Hannah Hayes, PA-S

The clinical year of PA school is fun and exciting, but also challenging and exhausting. As we finish our fifth rotation and are in the middle of the holiday season it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past few months and say thank you to all those who support my classmates and me.

The day before my first clinical year rotation began, I drove to Fayetteville — an hour and a half from Durham — to settle into my out-of-town housing where I would stay for the next month. I was lucky enough that being out of town was not too far away and I was able to go home on weekends, but it was still the most time I’d spent away from my toddler daughter. I video chatted with her twice a day but it was still so difficult to be far away from her. I wanted to hug and kiss her and felt like I was missing out.

She didn’t understand why I was gone and would cry for me at night. When I came home on the weekends, she was glued to my side and thought I was leaving her every time I stepped out of the room. While it was challenging for us all, my husband was there, despite his own long work hours, to care for our daughter — and my mom even flew out from California to help. It also helped knowing I was not the only student in my class juggling out-of-town rotations and family life. Talking with classmates helped me cope, and I’m incredibly grateful that the PA program takes each student’s personal life into consideration and that they were able to give me a rotation that was not too far away for the required out-of-town experience.

Two months later, as I rotated through inpatient general medicine at the Durham VA Medical Center, the hours were long and the learning curve was enormous. There were many days I left in the morning while my daughter was still sleeping and returned home in the evenings after she had already gone to bed. But yet again, my daughter, husband, family and friends were right there cheering me on.

Each of my classmates and I have faced ups and downs through the first few months of clinical year: long hours, rotations far away from loved ones, the anxiety of starting a new “job” every month, illnesses, family emergencies, holidays away from home. But the joys of clinical year far outweigh the challenges — the thrill of connecting with a patient, nailing a diagnosis, mastering a new skill, and beginning to picture ourselves as real health care providers.

And all the while, we have 87 other classmates encouraging us, sharing study materials, providing insights and tips for each rotation, celebrating one another’s successes and supporting one another through the challenges.

So this is a shout out to all the family members, friends, classmates, faculty and staff who continue to support each of us — in school and in life — as we pursue our dreams of becoming PA-Cs. Thank you! We could not do it without you — at least I know I certainly could not.

Hannah Hayes 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.