PA School Harassment

Is this seriously even a thing?

The Journal of Physician Assistant Education (JPAE) recently published a pilot study on perceived discrimination, harassment, and abuse in PA education.

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to some of you regarding the topic of PA school bullying. I did a quick search and there’s even a thread on Reddit! Some are afraid to speak up on this matter for fear of retaliation from the program, others are just unsure of who to talk to. Well, PA school is over for me (thank goodness) and I have no issues talking about it!

The article touched on a few points that really hit close to home. I hope this is a true statement when I say that I’m a minority and disliked my PA school environment.  I really struggled my first semester. My study group was not working out and I knew things had to change. I parted ways to focus on myself and sure enough, my grades picked up.

Of course, this came at a cost. I was isolated. I really didn’t know who to turn to. I sought out to get involved in student leadership both on the state level and with AAPA to get the support that I craved.

The following summer, I was on a roll! I was nominated to receive a PA student scholarship by our state academy. A month later, I found out that I was selected to be part of the student delegation for AAPA. I posted my excitement on social media not for bragging rights, but for my family and friends that were genuinely excited about my PA school journey.

And then shortly… things went downhill. I don’t know if there was jealousy, immaturity, or if I was just simply an easy target for someone’s self-esteem issues, but I often felt these microaggressions even on social media! I’ve accepted it and carried on as a lone wolf. I knew that clinical year was right around the corner and I wouldn’t have to subject myself to this isolation daily.

Oh, but I was wrong. Not even three weeks on my very first rotation, I had a very unfortunate encounter. One of my classmates badmouthed me to another PA, tarnishing my professional reputation. I was sent home early from that ER shift. I felt humiliated. I spoke to the program directors about it and an e-mail was sent out to the entire class on professionalism.

I do applaud some of my classmates who reached out and said they had no animosity towards me. But I still felt alone.

My point is if you’re reading this and currently feel like you’re being bullied for being different, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’re also going through the same waves. It’s not fair. PA school is challenging enough without the high school drama. But sadly, this is the reality and you will always find some form of unprofessionalism in the workplace.

If you’re feeling alone, lost, or unsure of yourself, I AM HERE FOR YOU!


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