On April 10, after the Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants’ (WAPA) spring conference, students from four of Wisconsin’s PA programs gathered for the second annual Wisconsin PA Student Social, hosted this year at the Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Company in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. (It’s crazy how fast a year can go by. Read about the first one here.)
Students from UW-Madison, Carroll University, UW-La Crosse and Concordia University, Wisconsin’s newest PA program, met to swap stories, network and catch up with old friends from undergraduate studies or from clinical rotations around the state. Some program directors and faculty also stopped by to celebrate.
It was an especially joyous evening for Carroll University, which claimed its first-ever WAPA Challenge Bowl championship! The mood was lively as the three-year-old program from Waukesha toasted its championship team of didactic- and clinical-year students.
UW-Madison, the reigning champs, dressed in Harry Potter costumes this year. It may well take a little magic to lift the trophy next year given the 2014 competition’s intensity.
The gathering was born of, and is sustained by, the idea that PA students are the future of the profession and need to work together. All PA programs, as well as state and national organizations, should make student relationship-building a priority.
As I chatted with students from various programs and backgrounds it became clear that the adage, “We’re not so different, you and I” really does hold true. Students from different programs shared hearty handshakes and delicious microbrews with old friends and new ones throughout the evening.
Near the end of the event, I debated the future with Jimmy Clark, a new friend, and Mike Conway, an old friend. Jimmy, a didactic-year student at UW-Madison, was looking forward to his clinicals. Mike, a clinical-year student about to graduate like me, was looking forward to starting a new career.
These simple, pleasant conversations will pay dividends for us and the profession.
I hope this new tradition will be carried on for at least one more year. Kathy Lohff, the current president of the Carroll University PA Student Society, assures me that it will.
As we left, my usual departing phrase, “May our paths cross again, and often” perfectly captured the sentiment of the evening.
Thank you to the roughly 100 students who made this year’s social a success, as well as the program directors and coordinators of the spring WAPA conference who supported our efforts.
And a big thank you to the staff at Moosejaw for their prompt and professional service, which made for a spectacular event.
John W. (JJ) Jenkins is a second-year PA student at Carroll University. He is an Army veteran and former president of the Carroll University PA Student Society.
- We’re Not So Different, You and I by JJ Jenkins