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First Year PA

From Student to Clinician

Published August 23, 2013 12:14 PM by Harrison Reed
The wind whipped around the rooftop of the Philadelphia high-rise apartment building and tousled the hair of perhaps the only person who knows exactly what I have experienced over the last eight months. We sat overlooking the urban expanse and swapped stories of silly daily events, gut-wrenching stress and, of course, death.

Like me, my friend had left physician assistant school and accepted a job in one of the most intense fields in medicine. And, just like me, she had left everyone she knew to lay roots in a brand new city. Our mutual therapy session continued as the sun disappeared and darkness settled over her new home. The conversation inevitably drifted toward our days in school together and the friends we had left to pursue our new careers.

They have scattered -- our old classmates, colleagues and friends -- to different corners of the country, and even the globe. Their lives have already seen so many triumphs: successful careers, engagements, weddings and even new babies. They, no doubt, have also faced down many of the challenges that I encountered this year. It's tempting to feel a bit disappointed, even sad, that such amazing people are continuing their stories without sharing the daily encounters that made our time together in school so special.

Sure, our paths have diverged, but we may have gained something even better. Plants survive by scattering their seeds far from the parent that produced them. In order to grow and flourish, they need to escape the shade of the branches from which they sprouted and find their own fertile ground. And even if the sun, those environmental stressors we all encounter, can scorch us, it is exactly what we need to grow.

So yes, we came from that safe PA school tree and scattered like seeds in the wind. And some of us ended up in places that seem more harsh and barren. But we are prepared for it. Heck, we are made for it. We need it to grow to our greatest potential.

A few years from now, you will see something truly impressive. We won't be scared little seeds anymore, or even little saplings. When you look across the area that we covered-from New York to Pennsylvania to Ohio to California and even Japan-you will see a forest of strong PAs. And in an ever-changing healthcare environment, our patients need that shade.


This is an awesome post.. very well-put. Been thinking about all of our friends a lot lately.. fall coming up especially makes me miss everyone. You're so right, though; the things we are all doing are amazing! Hope you're doing well! :)

Vanessa August 29, 2013 7:19 PM

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