Second Year Student Blog: Justin Wood

Monday, June 26, 2017

Justin Wood, PA-S


Fellow classmate Neena Pack has posted this lovely announcement in our class Facebook group too many times to count at this point in our PA school career. It serves as a reminder to download the necessary updates to ensure a fully-functioning testing platform. During clinical year, this usually only means one thing: Get excited, folks, it’s call back day!

Call back days are, essentially, didactic days scattered throughout our clinical year. They are focused on faculty and class updates, relevant clinical lectures, and usually a small group discussion amongst students and their advisors.

They occur about eight times throughout second year, or approximately every two months. Of course, I should mention, that each call back day begins with an end-of-rotation exam for our current clinical rotation.

Despite the angst that may come with these tests, the excitement each of us have to see our fellow classmates for the first time in weeks usually overcomes anxiety and dread. Familiar faces start entering Room 208 with their laptops, Ethernet and power cords and usually some sort of large caffeinated beverage. For some people, this is the first time seeing a classmate in months based on their rotation site. Nonetheless, at 8 a.m. sharp, everyone is seated in the same seats we chose during our didactic year, ready to begin exams.

Once the exams have ended, the didactic portion begins. Typically, we begin with a director’s report and an update on the overall class. This segues into an overview of the lectures and activities for the day. Certainly the central “theme” surrounding call back days has changed as the months pass by. In the beginning, at our first call back day in mid-September, classes included clinical lectures such as an Infectious Disease refresher or Pediatric Oral Health. Half way through the year, lectures shifted to resume/CV building and job hunting. And as we approach our final call back day in June, we’re now focusing on medical licensing and PANCE preparation. The reality that PA school is wrapping up is finally sinking in.

Time to Catch Up With Friends

One pivotal part of call back day is of course lunch! Noon strikes and the class bursts through the doors to go to the local lunch spot, Parker and Otis, or other quick spots in the downtown area. Occasionally, lunch is provided by the program and first-year students join us for combined mealtime—a great opportunity to meet up with mentees and provide them with guidance.

With the exception of the winter call back days, this is also a great time to enjoy the outdoors while lying on a blanket or playing lawn games with other classmates. Of course, time flies when you’re having fun and before you know it, we’re summoned back inside the building for the remaining half of call back day.

As all of our late-night studying catches up to us and the caffeine wears off, each call back day comes to a close around 4 p.m. This, however, doesn’t stop us from jumping into the real fun because social activities are being planned! Whether it’s going to a Durham Bulls game or grabbing a drink at the local brewery for happy hour, it is finally time for us to really catch up. While this seems a little redundant, following 7-8 hours together in the classroom, we recognize that in 48 hours, the cycle repeats, and more of us head out to distant rotations.

I have to admit, the thought of sitting in didactic lectures and taking nerve-wracking tests for call back days is not my favorite; I don’t think many in my class would argue that statement. Despite that, each call back day serves its purpose in transitioning us from second-year students to practicing PAs. I would say more importantly, they serve as an opportunity  for 90 classmates, now friends and future colleagues, to reunite and celebrate the journey of PA school together.