I have always loved the Halloween season – the cool air and gentle sunshine, the fiery colors in nature, the rush of a good scare at a haunted house, the adventure of dressing up into something different for a night – but this year as a PA student, I am taking my love of Halloween to a whole new level. This year, I have been planning my Halloween and fall itinerary since mid-summer; I have all my fall activity dates lined up, my Halloween decorations are out, a Halloween-dessert-of-the-week calendar has been planned, two Halloween costumes are in the works, my dog has a Halloween collar, I’ve crossed one haunted trail off the list, and, best of all, we just wrapped up the Elon PA pumpkin carving party! The party was a huge success; my roommates and I hosted it at our house and several amazing classmates helped set up the backyard and food area before everyone arrived. We started off by snacking on festive treats with some Halloween tunes and an old horror movie on in the background. Creativity (or maybe Pinterest searching skills?) are not lacking in this PA class; we enjoyed mummy hotdog wraps, acorn chocolate treats, a gorgeous spider web cake, candy corn party mixes, witch finger pastries, pumpkin-vomit guacamole, and potion punch to name a few. Then the carving commenced! I was amazed at the variety of pumpkin decorating we had: there was carving, scraping, whittling, and painting, and they all turned out fabulously. Some went with the Halloween theme – we had some ghosts, monsters, witches, haunted houses, and more; others paid tribute to their alma maters – the NC State Wolfpack, Elon Phoenix, and our very own Elon DPAS were represented. Tigger, Cinderella, and Spiderman all made appearances. Lastly, we had a few faces carved, but these were not your average Jack-o-lanterns. Two of the faces were intricately whittled, one was a portrait of the carver’s dog, and another was completely transformed into a Frankenpumpkin. It was an excellent afternoon.
Some may wonder what has sparked my dedication (or obsession, as some may see it) to the fall season, and, after some pondering, I have come to a couple conclusions. First, I think this year Halloween has provided me with a much needed distraction from the endless learning, lectures, quizzes, and tests that make up my life as a PA student. As much as I love gaining all the valuable medical knowledge we are learning, it is easy to get burnt out on the extreme amount of information coming at us at an incredibly fast pace. In the middle of summer when my least favorite topic, musculoskeletal, was wrapping up and burn out was imminent , I caught a glimpse of the fall season on the horizon and grabbed on to it as something to look forward to and make plans for. Since then, my dedication to this season has grown. It has provided me with a welcome escape that has kept me smiling even through the darkest, scariest days of nephrology. Second, the spirit and liveliness of my amazing classmates, and, in particular, my Halloween partner in crime, Sinead, have fanned the flame of my burning passion for the fall season. They have been great friends: sharing my excitement for the season, participating in my crazy craft and activity ideas, and giving me their ideas for how to make this fall and Halloween great. I’m sure they would even take the responsibility of letting me know if my Halloween obsession ever spiraled out of control… maybe.
So, it seems I owe my new-found Halloween dedication/obsession to PA school. In addition to an excellent medical education and a supportive community of colleagues and faculty, I think that’s an amazing thing I will be able to come away with!