One of my favorite aspects of the Duke PA program (and one of the many reasons why I chose Duke) is the incredible diversity of the students that comprise each class year after year. Each of us possesses a long list of unique experiences, accomplishments, and perspectives, and our education is enriched every day because of this.
As we have pushed our way through didactic year, it has been great to watch each of my peers exercise their expertise and knowledge in the many courses, labs, and seminars we have taken. For example, throughout anatomy and cadaver lab during fall semester, the athletic trainers in the class, because of their strong backgrounds in anatomy, were some of our “go-to” resources if we ever needed help while studying. During other units like cardiology, a different group of our classmates—with strong backgrounds in cardiac rehab or exercise physiology—stepped up to the plate. While preparing for the grand finale task of fall semester, the complete physical exam, the nurses in our class were often able to help us improve our technique and perform more efficiently.
In addition to traditional classroom lectures, we also get to participant in many hands-on learning experiences such as diagnostic wet labs. These labs are sessions during which we practice skills like phlebotomy, IV catheter placement, and common lab tests such as urinalysis and rapid strep. The phlebotomy wet Lab was one of the first instances during which I felt as if I had something to offer to my fellow classmates, for my previous clinical experience working as an emergency department technician often entailed performing venipuncture.
I remember the mix of emotions among the class during the days leading up to wet lab; those who were phlebotomy pros in their past lives were excited to be back in familiar territory, while others were developing tachycardia just thinking about drawing blood for the first time. Meanwhile, I was busy during those preceding days distantly inspecting the arms of everyone in class looking for veins and judging whether he or she would be an easy or difficult “stick” for the lab. If you have drawn blood before, you definitely understand.
The day of the phlebotomy wet lab arrived. First, our instructors reviewed proper procedure and technique, and then we began practicing on mannequinarms to get a little bit more comfortable before practicing on each other. Once we reached a certain level of confidence, the real fun began. I volunteered my veins, offered advice and tips, and cheered others on through the nerves and fear. Everyone did amazingly, and when we are asked in clinic next year, “Have you done this before?” all of us can confidently answer with a “yes”.
The phlebotomy diagnostic wet lab is one of many instances displaying the culture of teamwork and support that is characteristic of our class. We help others when we have the chance and learn from others when we are not sure. Everyone in the class has something special to contribute, and our diversity provides educational benefits that cannot be gained from curriculum alone.