Lessons from my DMU family

During my time at Des Moines University, I have grown not only in my knowledge and passion for medicine but also in who I am as a person. I have been challenged to become more caring and knowledgeable, for which I can thank DMU, my classmates and faculty.

It seems like just yesterday when we all walked into orientation feeling alone and scared. It’s kind of a strange thing. You show up as a group of strangers starting down a crazy, intense road. Over the year you learn together, stress out together, laugh together and become a family. It’s cliché, but it’s like one big family in the physician assistant wing. My classmates have helped me get through classes I never thought possible, listened when I was stressed to the max and just plain made my year.

I am unable to even comprehend the idea that we all will be separated within a few short weeks and sent to rotation sites all over the country. You would think we would get sick of each other with all the hours we spend together, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I leave class and, within 30 minutes, I am already contacting someone asking if they want to hang out or just study together. We are not only classmates but also friends and even to some extent family.

Then I think about how far we have all come academically. It’s mind-blowing the amount of information we have learned during these past 12 months. One year ago, I could not have saved a patient’s life. Today I believe I can.

The intensity of the PA program at times seems unbearable, but we all make it through and will be great practitioners because of it. We are in class seven hours a day being taught about every aspect of the human body through hours upon hours of lecture time as well as numerous hands-on experiences that are invaluable to our education. Ninety percent of our time is spent in lectures where we gain a tremendous knowledge base. The rest is filled with various labs that truly prepare us for the clinical year ahead. They include training in the anatomy lab, surgical skills, casting, EKG lab, physical diagnosis, patient simulations and assessments, FLEX care, basic life support and advanced cardiac life support and gynecology – the list could go on and on. I believe the opportunities we are given at DMU are far beyond what others receive throughout the country and are key to the success we have while on rotations and throughout our careers.

Lastly, I think about the DMU faculty. We have been blessed with some of the greatest professors around. They take a keen interest in not only the academic aspect of each of our lives but care who we are as people. This fact alone has made many of us more passionate about what we are doing and more confident in who we are as health care providers. Knowing that most of them once stood in our shoes and are giving their time and knowledge to help us succeed is such a comfort.

One focus underlies all we have been taught: to genuinely care for every human life we come in contact with. It’s because of numerous faculty that I can say this idea is ingrained in who I have become, and it will be the center of who I am as a health care provider. I cannot even begin to express the appreciation I have for the opportunity of attending Des Moines University and owe much of that to the wonderful faculty and the downright amazing PA Class of 2011.

Daley Cie Dodd is a DMU student and an active contributor to the University’s blog, “Dose of DMU.” She is one of two PA students chosen to join a DMU team that will provide care in Mali, West Africa, next February. In May, Dodd became one of 77 PA students across the country to be awarded a 2010 Physician Assistant Foundation scholarship based upon her outstanding academic achievement and commitment to community service and high-quality health care. In the class photo above, she is in front, in turquoise blue, fifth from the left.

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