With the start of the new school year around the corner, I was excited for the opportunity to try out my newly chosen path for love and friendship with the 22 people with whom I would spend the next 27 months. It was to be expected that a class of 22 extremely intelligent Type-A personalities would experience large levels of stress in the process of figuring out this PA school thing. About 3 weeks into the program, we held elections for our student society and I surprisingly was nominated and voted president by my classmates. I say it’s surprising because it really isn’t my personality to be someone who has to take the reigns on decision making and organization for a group of my peers and kept telling myself, “I’m too much of an introvert for this!” Well, if I was to live in the words of choosing my emotions, I knew I had to choose to do this and put the best interests of my classmates first. I must say it’s been quite a learning experience for me to try and rally 22 people for various reasons, but I look to this as a way to be there for others in times of high stress and need. The first way I decided to do this was to host an anatomy test study break the day prior to our dreaded first test. Kevin helped me plan the menu as well as cook and prep food for this shindig in an attempt to offer my classmates a breather away from thinking about all the back and thorax had to offer us. While we wish more of my class got the chance to partake in this, I was super glad to see about a third of them take time for a break to grab some food and get to know Kevin and me a little bit better.
As the months pass, it has been great watching friendships grow of those in my class. It shows their willingness to put themselves out there for get to know other people regardless of age or background. One of the earliest ways of nurturing these friendships was celebrating birthdays and has since been our favorite excuse to indulge in local restaurants (I’m pretty sure Taste of Thai is #1 haha).
Not only am I lucky to be in the presence of my classmates, I also loved the way the students set up the program where they pair one 2nd year student as a “buddy” for a new first year. My buddy Katie is a super nice, laid back, go-with-the-flow kinda gal (also super smart!) and has been a great help with transitioning me into classes and surviving school. For my birthday, she surprised me with a huge delicious chocolate cake, which was an awesome breakfast during our anatomy lecture 🙂 With her birthday only a few weeks after mine, I wanted to ensure I could make it as awesome as she made mine, so I surprised her with some cupcakes with rainbow cookies on top. We’re both native Richmonders, so I knew she would appreciate the infamous Ukrop’s cookies. I also snuck into our PA classroom and hung homemade birthday signs for her, but I forgot to get pics.
- With the end of the first semester coming up, it meant not only did I not have to spend time in the anatomy lab 9+ hours a week but also that Katie would be leaving for rotations at the beginning of the spring semester. I thought for awhile on making her a “rotations survival kit” with little goodies to help her through her clinicals. I perused things I had around the house, like microwave popcorn and tea bags, and picked up a few trinkets from Michael’s. The end product included bags of popcorn labeled to use when she got a free moment to enjoy a good movie, tea bags and honey spoons for relaxing after a long day on her feet, a large chocolate bar appropriately labeled “emergency chocolate,” a journal to record things she learned along with blank cards to give her preceptors thanking them for the experience. I’m excited to hear all about what her rotations have to offer!
I continually try to maintain a level of friendship with each of those in my class and attend outings so I can get to know everyone individually. One of my classmates shared with me a passage from “The Last Lecture” where the author mentions his favorite piece of advice from his hero: “If you wait long enough, people will surprise and impress you. When you’re frustrated with people, when they’ve made you angry, it just may be because you haven’t given them enough time. But in the end, people will show you their good side.” Kevin and I decided we will start having people in class over for dinner in small groups as a way for the two of us to get to know them even better. It may seem as though a lot of our interactions involve making gifts or spending money, but we also believe time can be much more valuable than things which we’ll get to in another post.
What do you do to nurture friendship?