In late May, I decided to go to my first conference as a physician assistant. The annual AAPA conference was in Washington DC this year. The last time I went to the AAPA conference was in 2010 in Las Vegas. I was a student. I enjoyed my experience so much I wanted to come back. Some people come to these conferences to enjoy the sites, others like to learn, and some enjoy both. I decided being a new PA I wanted to learn more than take in the sites. The conference was in the DC convention center, a beautiful building. The talks were very good. Of course there are always some speakers that make you want to fall asleep. I wanted to learn topics in my field as well as see others just out of pure interest. My favorites were on Peds Toxicology, PAs in CSI, and PAs in Orthopedics. My experience was definitely different this time around. For one, I was exhausted after going to all these lectures, it is amazing how out of practice you can be when you are not in the classroom 24/7. Secondly, I felt a new sense of confidence. I felt like I belonged here amongst other colleagues. As as student, I always longed to fit in and not be an outsider.
The best part of the conference was seeing some familiar faces. I believe there were 8 PCOM PA 2012 classmates of mine that came to the conference. I also got to see all my teachers. On the sunday of the conference we had an alumni get together in a local hotel where food and drinks was given. My class was recognized for our 100% first time pass rate on the PANCE. Dr. Cavenagh made his famous speech on PCOM PAs. I always love hearing it. He speaks about how many patients we see a year, the top fields we work in (Ortho and ER are tied this year), and overall that we make a difference out in the world. After his speech, I got to mingle with teachers, current students, and alumni. I got to share experiences of the working world as well as insight on rotations. I felt like I was really helping the students. One current student actually came up to me and spoke to me about my blog. I felt so touched.
As a side note, I have always had this urge some day to teach. Even in college I always thought I would either become involved in medicine or education. The problem was that I never knew what I could teach. After starting to write this blog and embark on my second year of PA school I thought maybe I could teach at a PA school. Similarly, in my job I was asked to help orient a new hire. I feel like I was really good at it. Who knows, maybe I will someday teach once I get more experience under my belt. I think it is important to have a person who students can relate to but also someone with enough experience that they can really learn something from.
So, all in all during the conference I racked up an impressive 29 CME I credits. I got to enjoy seeing DC, friends, teachers, and new students. I look forward to what next years conference will bring. Have a Happy July 4th tomorrow everyone!