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First Year PA

Until We Meet Again

Published January 9, 2014 2:45 PM by Harrison Reed
I sat in the airport terminal in November of 2012 and stared at my cell phone. I flicked the screen on and off as I waited out another wave of anxiety. I was about to place a call that would dictate the course of my life. At the time, I could barely comprehend the changes that would take place over the next year.

It would be the year that changed the way I looked at life. The year that changed the way I looked at patients and at medicine. It would be the year that I learned to trust my gut ... that I even had a gut to trust. It would be the year that I learned my own limitations and how to first accept, then overcome them. It would be the year that I would lose someone very dear, but help dozens of strangers overcome that same loss. It would be the year that I befriended death but fell in love with life.

In 2013, I transformed from a scared student to a slightly-less-scared clinician. I became a teacher and a mentor before I even hung my diploma on the wall. I met some colleagues who seemed bent on stopping my progress but many more who supported me like family. I discovered that my passion mattered much more than my age and experience to the patients and families experiencing their own personal hells.

I dipped my toe into the waters of medicine and-without warning-someone pushed me into its depths. I coughed and sputtered and kicked my legs just hard enough to stay afloat. But by the end of the year, I swam.

And, perhaps most important of all, I was privileged to share my experiences with you. This blog has served as an outlet for my triumphs and failures. It has connected me to people around the world who have felt the same fear and pain and elation in their own careers. It, hopefully, can teach future clinicians a few lessons that I only learned through sweat and tears and heartbreak.

The experiences of the first year of clinical practice are invaluable and beyond replication. However, they come at a cost. Like training for a race, the first day is always the hardest. Remain dedicated and persistent. Surround yourself with supporters. Heed helpful criticism. Mute those who detract for their own pleasure. And on the days when you feel beaten down, exhausted and close to failure, just remember that somewhere there is someone grateful that you entered his or her life.

Of course, you will have to figure most of this out for yourself. Because a year ago even this blog would not have prepared me for what lay ahead. I sat in that airport staring at my phone, took a deep breath, hit the "Call" button and waited for the voice on the other end.

"About that job offer," I told the recruiter, " I'll take it."


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