When I interviewed at OHSU, the Physician Assistant Program Director repeatedly emphasized how much care is taken during the application process to assemble each incoming class. He spoke about how deliberately each applicant is chosen in order to create a class that works well together and values collaboration instead of competition. The selection process is not random; each member of the incoming PA class is “meant to be here.”
Current PA students that participated in interview day events corroborated and elaborated on what we had been told. They spoke about how close their class was despite the short time they had been together. About how sharing individual strengths and knowledge in an effort to achieve a collective success was the norm, and how supportive everyone was of each other during the inevitable highs and lows that occur in a demanding PA program.
At the time, I was a bit skeptical. How was it possible to bring together over 40 complete strangers and create the chemistry that was being described? Could it be done? How did the admissions committee do it? And, after vying with scores of other students for top grades in college, it was hard to believe that the PA class was not competitive. They truly wanted everyone to succeed and cross the graduation finish line? What was the catch? And yet…even though the first year students had only been in school together for 5 months, they interacted like they had been friends for years.
I was confused.
We are currently in our ninth week of classes. We have had numerous exams and quizzes and, I’m happy to report, have all made it through. None of us have done it by ourselves. We have all worked together and generously shared our strengths, time and resources with one another. I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails have been sent out to the entire class about various YouTube videos, mnemonics, or books that have been found to help understand a difficult topic (e.g. the brachial plexus!).
Or how many colorful homemade diagrams have been shared.
Or how many study groups have met.
Or how many class events we have organized to take a break from studying, enjoy a little bit of summer, and keep morale up.
Or how many times we have reassured each other that no one will get left behind, that we will all pass our classes and rotations, graduate, and eventually become fabulous PAs.
Because we are all meant to be here.