The Unexpected Benefit of Friendship

Tonight we had another great night at Chick Fil A. We celebrated Ken’s birthday with cupcakes and chicken — what more could one ask for? It has been great to be surrounded by so many friends, and many of our students. We are humbled by how many people have shown up to Get Chikin’ for Adoptin’!

As the night was winding down, I found myself at a table with a former PA student and a current PA student with her husband. We each had previous careers prior to embarking on physician assistant studies, and had considered other career paths. In particular, I had been accepted to a PhD program in Physiology, but had chosen to go to Physician Assistant school instead. After practicing for several years as a PA, I then returned to the classroom to teach, while still practicing as much as I can.

Of course over time, there have been days when I’ve wondered if I made the right decision. I took a fairly enormous paycut to teach, and I work nearly double the hours many weeks. But at the same time, I feel called to where I’m at. I know that I’m making a difference in the lives of students, and I enjoy what I do — most days.

But as I’ve sat at Chick Fil A for the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed the company of former students and as I’ve had the chance to catch up with them, I can’t help but be thankful for an unexpected benefit of friendship.

To be friends with my students while they are in school would be inappropriate. After all, I am the professor, and they are the student. And as much as I like them, it is not a peer relationship, and I’m careful to guard against that.  All the while, however, I come to know their personalities, their hearts and their callings. We laugh together — and cry together. We agonize over difficult decisions, and celebrate milestones. I love the day that they graduate, and I am allowed to call them friends, because they are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. They are intelligent, compassionate, and godly. They are hard-working, yet have a sense of humor. And they are each incredibly unique.

I think the biggest unexpected benefit of being a professor of PAs, rather than being a PA only, is the relationships that are forged during, and especially the friendships that are formed after PA school is over. Our relationships now are not mandatory, but optional. And I’m so blessed that many of my former students are now my friends.

I think this PA professor job may be a pretty great thing after all.

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