Article written and photos provided by Colton Peltz
On January 13, 2020 the Missouri State University Physician Assistant Cohort of 2021 officially began didactic year. We completed 9 weeks of vigorous course work and each developed a daily routine to manage the sheer volume of material. Talk of a worldwide virus, known as Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), began to circulate and raised questions regarding the remainder of our semester. Our program faculty have been completely transparent when keeping us up to date with the university’s response. Our professors began developing contingency plans to continue our education remotely in the event that seated classes were canceled. At the end of week 9 the decision to transition to online classes was confirmed. This decision was made in an attempt to practice “social distancing” by limiting large gatherings and in-person contact at the university.
Our faculty have developed virtual course material allowing us to continue our education from home. Currently, we are meeting with our instructors and fellow classmates daily through live virtual Zoom classrooms. These live meetings hold us accountable and provide an opportunity to engage in discussion and group study. During this unprecedented time of closures and disruption, I have no doubt that the MSU Physician Assistant Cohort of 2021 will continue to adapt and overcome in order to play our part in “flattening the curve”.
Q: How is this impacting your studies?
Online PA school? Unfortunately, this is currently the nationwide reality. Our classes have been switched to online “distant” learning for the remainder of the spring semester.
PA School is incredibly difficult even under normal circumstances and adapting to remote learning has been challenging. Our professors have been incredibly flexible and are accessible via email or phone throughout the day. It is comforting to know that our professors are working around the clock to provide us the same level of education that we would have received in the classroom. After a few days of technical difficulties and confusion our cohort has developed a new self-isolation study routine. I am confident that we will continue to excel, and I am thankful that the quality of my education has not been sacrificed despite the current response to a global pandemic.
Q: Will this impact your graduation?
Missouri State University physician assistant didactic year students are still scheduled to graduate on time in December of 2021.
Q: Where are students located at this time?
At this time, we have students completing their course work all over the state of Missouri. We have students that have traveled back to their home state of Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Iowa as well. We miss seated classes with our professors and fellow classmates but are enjoying the quality time at home with family while in quarantine.
Q: How is the pandemic impacting your class? What are general issues they are facing?
After 9 weeks of seated courses our cohort has developed a great sense of camaraderie. We share each other’s joys and frustrations. Through Zoom meetings and conference calls we have remained in daily contact with our classmates to provide mental and emotional support.
We have multiple students in our cohort that have children. On top of the rigorous demands of PA School, these SUPER MOMS and DADS are also homeschooling and caring for their children at home.
Technical difficulties are inevitable. With constant notifications it is easy to miss an assignment or forget about a Zoom meeting. Our instructors have taken the time to compile the weekly objectives for each course in a to-do list which is sent out to us at the beginning of each week. If we weren’t tech savvy at the beginning of the semester, we sure are now!
Q: Has this reshaped your view on patient care or the PA profession?
Absolutely. Physician Assistants are contributing to the healthcare system amidst this global pandemic alongside incredible physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, EMTs, Pharmacists, CNAs, ER techs, Hospital maintenance staff, and more.
The versatile nature of our profession allows PA’s to switch medical specialties throughout their career. This aspect of our profession has been invaluable during these times because PA’s are switching from their respective specialties to Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care to directly care for COVID-19 Patients.
COVID-19 will not deter us from pursuing our dream career. We are no stranger to adversity. By practicing unmitigated daily discipline, we will persevere and graduate to become competent, compassionate providers.