So classically, October at my school is called “Sucktober”. Its supposed to be a ton of material, moving very quickly. We have neuro, cardio, and pulmonary blocks this month, which of course are all pretty difficult in themselves, but more difficult when they move so quickly. So, I thought it would be nice to do 7 tips for surviving PA school.
- Don’t make drastic life changes. If you smoke, keep smoking. If you never exercise, don’t start now. PA school is already a big enough life change, and you don’t need to add more things on top of that. You want your personal life to remain calmish and steady. (This is advice from one of my professors)
- Specifically set out “me” time every week. If you always have a TV show you watch (hello Grey’s Anatomy and This is Us), keep watching it. You want that little bit of relaxation. Personally, running or working out makes me feel a million times better. I didn’t exercise enough over summer, trying to spend every minute studying, and I think it actually made it a lot harder for me to do well.
- If you have a significant other or spouse, relay to them how important it is that you have their support. You need unconditional love now, and they need to understand that you’re going to be insanely busy. They’re going to be that person you come home to and vent about your day with, and the person who picks you back up when you think you’re failing. With that being said, if you don’t already have this person, don’t try to find them during PA school. School is already hard without dating (cause we all know dating is stressful)
- Get a pet. And by pet, I mean cat. You’re going to be gone all day, which is really hard on a dog who wants to go on walks and hang out with their best friend (you). While as a cat just does cat things all day, and then when you come home will love you. My cat is literally the best thing for me in PA school. Granted, some cats are jerk butts, but if you get them as a kitten you can hopefully mold them into loving you more.
- Don’t live with someone in your program (this may be a totally radical view, but one I really believe in). You’re going to be in school ALL day (8-5 at my program) with these people. And then you’re going to go home, and honestly, you’re going to want to unwind a little bit. It’s going to be hard to do with someone who is also in your program and in all of your classes. When I went on interviews, I was told this COUNTLESS times, and I really think its a wonderful idea. I currently live with a dual student (GWU offers a MPH/PA program), and I think it is great. We only have one class together, but she knows enough about the program that she understands my stress levels.
- Find your study spots. This could be at your desk at home, or a specific place in the library. Studying in a similar spot will help you remember more information. But have more than one, because when you get really tired of studying, you can switch to a new spot and that will help wake you up.
- Make your room conducive to sleep. Spend a little extra on that nice mattress. Sleep is SO important, and you want to make sure you get the best sleep you can. Make your room your space and a safe haven. You may not be here a lot, but when you are here, you want to feel comfortable and like you can unwind.
Keep your fingers cross for me that I make it through this month relatively unscathed!