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As January 2015 quickly approached, I became more and more nervous about starting PA school. So many questions were running through my mind: am I ready to do this? Will I be any good at it? Will I have any idea what I am doing? Will my classmates like me?

I annoyed my family, friends, and fiancé with these questions in the weeks before PA school began. Their answer: yes, Amber, you will be great at this and all will be fine. I come from a great support system, but I was about to have to find a whole new one in my classmates. I was extremely nervous about starting PA school straight out of undergrad. Many of my classmates have much more life experience than I do, already have Master’s degrees, and have a lot of clinical experience. I knew I had accomplished what felt like the impossible by getting into Elon’s PA program, but in those first few weeks of class I was definitely very intimidated.

Now, we are well on our way to completing our fourth month of PA school. Since those first few weeks of school, my attitude has completely changed. I know I can do this, and I know this profession is where I am meant to be. I can take a history and do a physical exam for a patient with HEENT, pulmonary, or cardiovascular issues. I can present the patient’s case to a professor. I can tell you the names of hundreds of drugs, how they work, what you use them for, and their side effects. I can tell you the anatomy and pathophysiology of numerous diseases. I can tell you what tests to order to diagnose certain diseases. I can read EKGs, chest x-rays, and CT scans. I can recognize when a patient is having a medical emergency. Sometimes, I can even understand the medical talk in a Grey’s Anatomy episode.

If you had told me three months ago I would be able to do all of these things, I would not have believed you. I felt inadequate and unprepared the first few weeks of school. The same people I went to class with each day, and who intimidated me so much, are the reason my outlook has changed. This blog post is going to be written as just a small thanks to all of my classmates, who are easily some of the greatest people I have ever met.

When you get a group of people together and give them a common goal, it can bring them together in ways you wouldn’t believe. Since January, my classmates continue to be there for me time and time again. We have struggled together, cried together, and rejoiced together after finishing five days of exams in a row. These are the people who have raised me up and made me feel that I am well on my way to becoming a great PA. They are the people who will sit in a room with you for 6 hours helping you learn how to read EKGs. They are the people who will discuss congenital heart defects with you until you have mastered it. They are the people who will take you out to lunch, make you homemade cookie cake, and celebrate with you on your birthday. They are the people who see you in a panic before a patient practical exam and say, “look at me. You know this. You’ve got this.” They are the people who have truly made me feel like I can do this.

We each bring something different to the table. Some of us are amazing at cardiovascular medicine; some of us are amazing at lab work. Some people can take a beautiful history and uncover a patient’s disease in five minutes. Elon knew what they were doing when they selected each of us to interview and be accepted to the PA program. Through the application and interview process, each of us knew the program was going to be hard, but we never knew it would be THIS hard. The sheer amount of material we have to learn and master in such a short amount of time is amazing. It has led us to create our class motto: “Know All of The Things.” It is not only academically difficult, but it is also emotionally and mentally exhausting. It is very easy to get worn down, but each and every day we build each other up and hand out lots of encouragement. It is a long, hard journey, but it will all be worth it when we get to put that “PA-C” after our names.

So, thank you to each and every one of my classmates for all you have done, and continue to do, for each other. I feel so blessed every day that I was chosen for such an amazing program with such kind, intelligent, hard-working people. Thank you for making my struggles your struggles, and for helping me master the areas of medicine we have studied so far.

We’ve got this y’all! 7 more months until White Coat Ceremony!

Amber Dean, PA-S, Class of 2017