First Year Student Blog: Bryar Falvey

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bryar Falvey, PA-S

Reflections on the first year

People have described the first year of PA school as “drinking from a fire hydrant” or “carrying ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound sack” and I would have to agree. We begin a new unit of information almost every week; doesn’t that sound daunting? Well, it is.

It is crazy, it is hectic, it is stressful, but it is also exciting. College was drastically different from PA school. While in college, I was forced to read literature of which I had no interest. In PA school the material is everything I ever wanted and more.

Each week we tackle a different body system and its associated diseases. It is both a challenge and a joy to put the puzzle pieces together and to appreciate the relationship of structure and function … or perhaps malfunction. Some weeks can be more difficult than others, all of my classmates will agree, but I know that deep down, no one would pass on this opportunity despite the challenges.

A phrase which holds true (in my year thus far) has been, “the more you know the more you realize you don’t know.” While I feel that my competency grows with each unit, I recognize that I have a long way to go.

Out of my comfort zone

This spring, we finally began seeing patients and we have been able to practice collecting history and performing complete physical exams. The first time that I went into a patient’s room, I was a bundle of nerves. There were wires everywhere, the patient had just had surgery to repair his LVAD device, his blood pressure was running high and he was complaining of abdominal pain. I was way, way out of my comfort zone.

The first year has hammered home key points from each system and I have learned common diseases and their presentations. When I was faced with an actual patient, I had to slow down. There are no multiple-choice exams in the real world and rarely does a patient have only one body system affecting at any given moment.

If our second “Patient Assessment and Counseling” course has taught me anything, it is to stay humble. It is a great privilege to be at Duke, a school that provides us access to patients early on in our education, and yet I have had to remind myself that I will not know everything right away. Luckily, we have an entire year of clinical rotations coming up. That will be our opportunity to take our knowledge from paper to person.

Personally, I am looking forward to seeing things firsthand, getting my hands dirty and beginning to put my book knowledge to some use. I am positive that I will continue to feel like I am sipping from a bursting fire hydrant, but I also know that I will appreciate every moment of it and that I wouldn’t trade my sack of potatoes for anything else.