As I sit here reflecting about my first week of clinical rotations, I can’t help but think what a wild ride this all has been. The first thought I had when I received notice of acceptance to Duke was, “Uh, oh. Now I have to actually go!” It was scary to think I would have to leave my home, my husband and my pets back in Charleston, SC, and it has been a challenge. So far, though, it has all been worth it, and this last week has even further confirmed I made the right decision. Spending 10 months in the classroom learning, even though I had various clinical encounters throughout that time, made it easy at times to forget why I had come to PA school in the first place. Spending one week in clinic has helped to reignite that excitement I have for helping patients. I am glad I can do this with the foundation built during my first year of school, and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me as I move from site to site, from general medicine to various sub-specialties.
My first rotation is at a private dermatology practice in Raleigh. Each morning I have found myself eager to start the day, excited about what I may get to see or do in clinic that day. The first day I did a lot of observing, which I was glad for since this is my first rotation. By day two, however, I was already putting stitches in a patient! He knew I was a student, and inexperienced, yet invited me to learn on him anyhow. It was amazing!! As the week progressed, so did my responsibilities. I was assigned various topics to go home and study and I would present my findings to my preceptor the following day. When a patient presented with that chief complaint I would go in, independently, to see how I could help.
As this rotation progresses, and as I move throughout the clinical year, I know that my responsibilities will continue to grow. I will move from one of an observer and passive learner to that of a medical provider. I will have to use my clinical reasoning to determine what may or may not be the diagnosis in question given a certain set of clues. I will hone my skills in gathering the appropriate information, putting it together in a concise way to share with my peers, and learn how to be a team member to help my patients in the best way possible. I am so impressed with the process of becoming a Physician Assistant – so meticulously planned to allow us to evolve into competent medical providers. It is so exciting to think that I get to learn all of this at the Duke University Physician Assistant Program. They founded the PA profession and have trained some of the best PAs in the country, and in just one more year I will proudly get to say that I am a Duke-trained Physician Assistant.