My First PA Job Offer
The airplane shuddered around me and somewhere in the back a baby began to cry. I looked out of the window, past the carpet of clouds to the countryside that rolled in every direction. The plane shook again, even harder this time, and a few rows away a man cursed. I couldn't help but smile; I always loved the turbulence.
A limousine driver 30,000 feet below waited to take me to a steak dinner at a lavish hotel where my accommodations, like the plane ticket, were compliments of one of the most prestigious hospitals in the world. The next morning, some of the nation's top medical professionals would work to convince me to join their team. It all seemed strange and overwhelming for the son of a single school teacher who had never made more than 10 dollars an hour.
But nothing about the last two years was typical. I had left my home state of Florida while the ink on my Bachelor's diploma was still wet. I entered PA school -and the foreign world of the Ivy League-and was told to learn a medical school curriculum in half the time. I grew up fast; I had to. The lessons of my first year blew by. Twelve months after I arrived I was shoved into the hospital where the drugs, the blood, the scalpels and the patients were real.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable. That was my Zen-like approach to the chaos. Each clinical rotation brought a new environment, new colleagues and new opportunities to learn. Of course, it also meant new challenges tailored to wreck that fragile student self-esteem. The start of every rotation was like the opening to the middle of a book everyone else had already read.
I leaned back into the airplane seat. My gray suit had been crisp and new three years ago when I traveled to my PA school interviews. Now the cuff of the left leg was ragged and there were moth holes in the pants and jacket. I hoped the hospital's top-brass wouldn't notice.
Sure, PA school was a challenge. But students have a security I never really appreciated until it was gone: the expectation of ignorance, of ineptitude and of constant mistakes. When my plane landed and I began shaking hands and answering questions, my potential employers wouldn't see me as a student. They would see a professional PA paid to do a job.
The plane rocked again. Even after a year of constant change, my biggest adjustment is still ahead. Yes, it is the greatest opportunity of my life. My mom would cry tears of joy, my brother would pat my back and my nephew would give me a little smile and eye-twinkle-the look of admiration that always kept me going.
Still, most sane people would be a little scared. A major shake-up is about to hit my life. But that's ok. I always loved the turbulence.