Second Year PA Student Blog: Mowita Kensinger

Friday, June 28, 2019

Mowita Kensinger
Mowita Kensinger, PA-S

A memory that I often think back on is that of being a young girl on my neighbor’s farm, peering out over the pasture, searching my thoughts for the reason that my heart did not quite feel settled. I did this often and could always trace it back to a feeling of excitement and joy, or worry and fear. Sometimes that fear was proportional to my stature: would I have to go home before the cows came in for the night and not get to sit on Queeny, the friendly white heifer, while she milked? Other times it was a fear miles above my head: would my mother have enough money to get us all winter jackets and boots this year before the Wisconsin winter settled in? This game of sifting through my thoughts became a habit of mine, a way of filing my feelings to the appropriate spaces to address them.

When talking to patients and their families, I find myself asking the individual to look into their own files, asking them what fears they may have. Their responses tend to inspire me more than discourage me. A woman with recurring ovarian cancer worries about how her family will take the news and decides to push forward with a strong, graceful smile, determined to make it to her granddaughter’s graduation. A man waiting for a liver transplant worries that he has placed too much of a burden on his father when he moved to Durham for a better organ listing opportunity, but the look in his father’s eyes tells you how happy he is to have his son here. Looking closer, the patient’s eyes mirror those of his father. These are opportunities to dwell in the worry and fear, and yet these individuals choose to look ahead.

'Appreciate what is meaningful to each person'

As a student, I can worry that I am not good enough to be at this program, or that I cannot possibly learn everything that I need to know before caring for patients. However, since standing on the edge of that pasture I have learned that it is important to acknowledge that unsettling feeling, address it, and move forward. Continuing ahead, the provider that I aspire to be is one who understands that individuals file sources of joy and fear differently and that it is important to ask and appreciate what is meaningful to each person.

And while I have been developing my tools to handle worry, stress and doubt for as long as I can remember, I can’t help but acknowledge the support that I have had here at Duke. My unwavering husband, Drew, who has emotionally supported me unconditionally. My classmates who have continued to support each other beyond my expectations, without the defect of competition prevalent in so many academic environments. The faculty and staff that support, encourage, and inspire us. And the clinical educators who teach eloquently, with ability to instill experiences and clinical knowledge that will remain with us throughout our careers.

Being inspired by such supportive educators has reaffirmed my belief that the best indication of a great teacher is one that instills the desire in their students to give back to education, and for this it was important to me to be involved in my education and community here in Durham. Being part of the Stead Society as the Student Representative to the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants for the past two years has given me the opportunity to work closer with, and further my understanding of, my peers here at Duke and at the national level. This has also provided me with the opportunity to participate in the advocacy of the PA profession.

It is easy to worry that progress will never be realized, or that one person cannot make a difference, however, I chose to work toward incremental changes. I chose to take those worries and fears and file them aside as I keep looking forward, over the vast landscape expanding ahead.

Mowita Kensinger is a second-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 Family Medicine and Community Health, or Duke University.