First Year PA Student Blog: Adaugo Iwuala

Friday, January 17, 2020

Adaugo Iwuala PA-S

Being a Duke Physician Assistant Program student is such a blessing to me. Sometimes I am still in awe about the fact that I get to study medicine at such an amazing program! The first semester was a whirlwind, but I’ve done some reflecting on some of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way.

You are not alone.

When moving to Durham, I was worried about making friends and having a network of people I could rely on. However, I realized quickly that the people in my program were going to fill those roles for me. Classmates, faculty and staff were more than willing to help with any problems that I had and would go out of their way for me and each other. My advisor checked on me frequently, and each conversation with her ended with words of inspiration and motivation.

This semester, I faced many unexpected life challenges. I had a multitude of unexpected and expensive car issues, and my classmates offered to give me rides, recommended mechanics, and even offered to accompany me to buy a new car if necessary.

Life doesn’t stop in PA school, and I soon realized that we faced challenges of various kinds. Even people who seemed to have it all together were dealing with personal obstacles. I found that I was able to find encouragement from my classmates, which it felt like I needed every day! I was able to carry their burdens as well. We helped each other maintain a healthy perspective and grew closer in the process.

You are allowed to have fun.

In PA school, it’s so easy to get so wrapped up in the ever-growing to-do lists that you begin to lose yourself in the process. I  was very strict about designating time during the week to rest and do things that I love. It helped preserve my mental sanity and have a life outside the library and DPAP. So, plan weekend trips, go to that event or concert that you’ve been eyeing for weeks. Have a little fun, and don’t feel bad about it.

Be nice to yourself.

I am often critical of my own performance or productivity. This doesn’t do anything but make PA school harder. During orientation, we were given lots of advice for the upcoming school year. One that stuck with me was to “give yourself grace.” I had to learn to stop kicking myself. Sometimes your exam scores won’t reflect your hard work. Sometimes you will accidentally fall asleep early and lose a few hours of study time - and that’s okay. Give yourself grace, fix your mistakes, and keep moving.

You CAN do this.

Coming into Duke, I wrestled with a lot of imposter syndrome. I often joked that I accidentally got in, and it seemed like the majority of the class felt the same way. As the workload increased, I continuously doubted my abilities and wondered if I would even make it to the end of this semester. But I have been so surprised at how much we have been able to learn and how much of it is sticking! PA school is hard, but we are much more capable than we give ourselves credit.

So, as a rising second semester PA student, I can say that choosing Duke is still one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve learned countless lessons, grown in confidence and wisdom, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in a few years!


Adaugo Iwuala is a first-year student with the Duke Physician Assistant Program. Email adaugo.iwuala@duke.edu 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.