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Adventures of a New PA

'With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility'

Published July 28, 2008 3:24 PM by Timothy Loerke

Has the first week of orientation already passed me by? I have waited these previous three years to begin and now I can start counting down the days until graduation. With an end in sight, the journey is all the more fascinating and invigorating. I wanted to share some of my thoughts from orientation week and discuss what waves of excitement carry me into the next.

In the midst of my 43 classmates and 175 medical students, I sat in large auditorium where the dean of medicine spoke to the future practitioners of America. The closing illustration targeted the hearts of every student present. He projected the final scene from the first Spiderman comic, where Peter Parker sat with his mask off thinking of all the troubles he caused (specifically the death of his uncle) to become the hero. The closing line of the comic strip was Peter Parker’s realization: “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” It hit me at that point what I was stepping into. I was not just some student trying to further his education so I could have a better life. I was training to be a beacon of light for the broken and burdened. When we put on that white coat, people will believe what we say. This instilled a healthy fear that brought me into focus. Aside from all the meetings, policy lectures, and instructional sessions, I was most impacted by the real world statements from the dean and other directors.

I never imagined what kind of responsibility is inherited when you become a PA, let alone a student. Throughout orientation week, we heard a lot about professionalism and respect. This goes beyond the classroom and the clinic. We are watched closely by the surrounding community and can easily affect the reputation of the university or the physician assistant profession. It is a huge task to take on when starting this career path. Not that this bothers me but it definitely grabbed my attention.

As I reflect upon the lessons learned from orientation week and look ahead to the many lectures and hands-on experience that will be provided, the words of my programs director will echo in my ears. He simply said, “Don’t take short-cuts in patient care.” To know that my education is not about the grades, awards, or landing a stellar job out of school but about the well-being of my patients, is a humbling yet motivating truth. I am not becoming a PA for me but to help improve the health of my community. I take these moments of realization into my first week of class remembering that with great power comes great responsibility.

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