Second Year PA Student Blog: Moe Paquette

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Moe Paquette
Moe Paquette

Last January I was in the middle of my didactic year, writing my first Duke Physician Assistant Program blog about my roots in Vermont and experiencing Cameron Indoor Stadium and Duke Basketball with my dad. Fast forward 18 months, and I have now finished my clinical year, received my certificate in the beautiful Duke Chapel, and will soon be taking the PANCE.

Clinical year flew by! It has taken me across North Carolina for away rotations in Fayetteville, Jacksonville, and Laurinburg. Away rotations are part of the clinical year at Duke, when students typically spend a few months outside of Durham, living with other medical learners from all over the state. These rotations were a wonderful way for me to work with different populations and see what life is like outside of the Research Triangle.

Clinical year also took me across the world. In January, I spent a month working at Machame Lutheran Hospital in Tanzania as part of a Global Health Elective rotation. Located at just under 5,000 feet, the hospital offers primary medical care as well as inpatient medicine, surgery, and procedures for thousands of Tanzanian’s who live on and around Mt. Kilimanjaro. It also provides mobile palliative care and outreach twice a week, which was my favorite part of this trip. I will forever be grateful for the friendships that I formed with international medical learners from Sweden, Germany, and Russia while in Machame. Dinner was family style, and many nights were spent playing cards or talking about culture and medicine, huddled around our small camping lantern. Above us, monkeys could be heard swinging from tree to tree. This trip would have been no where near as fun without my amazing classmate, Carin Caves, who also made the trek to Tanzania.

Just a few months later I had the privilege of traveling to Havana, Cuba, with classmates, faculty, and alumni, learning the basics of the Cuban health care system. Watching the sunset from the Malecon and rooftop dinners highlighted a fantastic week filled with learning about medicine and spending time with friends.

'Sprinting a marathon'

As I think about these incredible experiences and prepare to start an Emergency Medicine Residency at Duke this fall, I have been able to reflect on my time at the Duke PA program. It has been my greatest challenge and biggest accomplishment. Last year, I compared PA school to drinking water from a fire hose, a saying that is repeated throughout your first year here. Today, I compare it to sprinting a marathon.

Luckily, I was surrounded by 87 of the best running partners you could ever find. My classmates inspired me every day, and I was routinely amazed by not only what they were able to do in the classroom and on the wards, but also in their personal lives and at home. These people became my biggest cheerleaders, and my best friends. We laughed and cried together, survived campout, and studied for more hours then we would like to admit. I know that the PA profession will not only be bigger — with 88 new Duke PAs — but better, filled with compassionate and intelligent providers that I am lucky enough to call friends.

Completing this crazy marathon takes hard work and dedication, and I have luckily been surrounded by a supportive group to help me get to this point. My mom and dad (who by this point, deserve honorary PA degrees), family, and friends have been a steadying force and inspiration. They filled my life with joy during quick trips to Vermont, and have given too-numerous-to-count pep talks. The Duke faculty and staff helped steady the very full ship with 88 scatter-brained PA students, and provided the extra moral support during tough weeks. I was fortunate to have clinical preceptors who took time out of their day to make sure that I was challenged, and truly were invested in the future of this profession.

PA school flies by. One day, you are nervously arriving and introducing yourself to your classmates, and the next day you are managing difficult clinical patients. Before you know it, you are in the Duke Chapel celebrating completion of this wonderful program with your classmates, family, and friends. Congratulations to the Duke PA program Class of 2019. Thanks for making this crazy ride worth it.

Moe Paquette recently graduated from 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.