I have a friend who will be beginning PA school this year, this is something I wrote for the incoming class as a second year PA student having just completed my didactic year.

When we were in your shoes, just one year ago, we met a second year class that seemed refreshed, excited and energized, and more than a few of us probably thought: the first year of PA school is supposed to be hell, right, the hardest thing anyone of us has ever undertaken? These guys look great! How bad could it be? What we failed to realize is that their exuberance was less an expression of what lies ahead but more a sense of relief and accomplishment.

So before we lull you into a false sense of security with our calm and easy demeanors we want to tell you, while it’s still fresh in our minds, that no part of what you are undertaling is going to be easy. It is hard as nails but we, every class before us and 60 000 practicing PAs are proof that it is not impossible either.

Each of you are here for a single reason as individual as you are, it is that reason, that trait, whatever it may be that you expressed on your CASPA, confirmed during your interview and admission committees recognized as what it takes to succeed as a PA. That reason is not because you want to practice medicine, there are plenty of people who want to practice medicine; it is not because of your transcript, no matter what your GPA there is someone out there with a higher one and if you had a 4.0 then there is someone who has more credit hours then you; it is not because you have 10 000 hours of health care experience, hit the reset button because it has no bearing here; it isn’t even because you want to be PAs, because most people who fill out a CASPA never even get an interview.

Make no mistake, whatever it is, that characteristic is what got you here and more importantly it is what will get you through the first year. Some of you are strong students, some of you have thousands of hours of healthcare experience, some of you are tenacious survivors, some are unflappable, some are type-A and some have sheer willpower, focus or resolve, it doesn’t matter. There is going to be a wall, you’re all going to hit it and it is that quality you possess that is going to get you over it.

You are becoming one of a select few, unique is a hard word to justify but we are unique, we are given the privilege of practicing medicine without attending medical school. We are bestowed with the trust of our patients, our supervising physicians and our nurses and staff.

So damn straight it’s hard to become a PA, it has to be, all of you will be charged not only to uphold the prestige of a very young profession but the responsibility for the care of other human beings; to help heal them, to ease their suffering and to help them die with dignity.

You are all going to overcome this challenge, over the next year you are going to devour and digest an absurd amount of information. You are going to suffer and rejoice and when it’s all over you will be standing here lulling next year’s class into a false sense of security.