Orientation week in perspective
The anticipation only intensified as months turned into weeks, then weeks into days. The thought of leaving behind everything I knew to relocate to a new and unfamiliar environment brought a mix of emotions. On the one hand I was impatient for the start of this new journey. On the other hand, change is something I am inclined to resist and so I was a bit anxious. Even still, I knew it was going to be worth every bit of my discomfort.
My vision of Durham, North Carolina — which I had read about in books and numerous online blogs — did not disappoint. Coming from the “concrete jungle” of New York City, this new place of streets lined with beautiful pine trees and passing strangers who stop for conversation with me began to ease all of my nerves.
Before I knew it, August 17 had arrived and orientation for the Duke Physician Assistant Class of 2017 had begun. The week equipped us with various tools to help us begin this journey as students and future clinicians. In my opinion, orientation is a snapshot of the fast-paced nature of physician assistant education. This first day included many introductions by faculty, staff and fellow classmates, along with presentations by various faculty members. These presentations included proven time management skills, healthy studying methods, and ways to maintain personal balance while in school, just to mention a few.
At the end of the first day of PA school, I got home and realized how mentally exhausted I was, realizing the necessity to quickly adjust. Day two and three went very similarly, more meets and greets with some group activities.
On the fourth day there was a graduate school version of a “treasure hunt.” Divided into several teams and furnished with maps, we went on an exploration of Duke’s main campus to locate important landmarks that would be indispensable to our time as students here. This was a fun activity not only because we had the chance to explore the famous Duke campus, but more so because it gave us the opportunity to learn more about our classmates while working together as teams to accomplish common goals. After all, working in teams will be an essential part of our lives as future clinicians.
Friday, the last day of orientation, was a special day set aside for our white coat ceremony. This ceremony provided us with well-defined guidelines regarding the expectations and responsibilities appropriate for the medical profession prior to our first day of class. It also signified one’s passage into a profession of selfless service to humanity. This solemn experience validated every aspect of my life that had led me onto this career path.
One by one, we each had our bright white and neatly ironed coats draped on us by our esteemed faculty advisors, inducting us into the best PA program in the nation.
The week ended beautifully with a Friday night social event held at Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Here I had the chance to meet a few of the second-year students who were in attendance. Their assurances of brighter days to come did help calm my nerves quite a bit as I am certain to make the best out of every experience as a Duke PA student.