It is CRAZY but I’m officially all finished with the second semester of didactic year of PA school! It feels like just yesterday that I was finishing with interviews and waiting to hear from schools, when really it was a year ago! This year has moved by so quickly and it is crazy to think how much information I have learned in a short six months. I’m definitely so incredibly happy to have the opportunity to go to PA school and learn from some of the most incredible minds in the profession. I wanted to share with y’all a couple of my thoughts on how this semester went and maybe give an insight in to strategies that would help with your own journey in school-whether its PA school or some other form of graduate school.
Things I wish I did more of, or did differently:
- Its funny how I always seem to start every semester with the plan to be super on top of my material and study every day while not waiting until the last minute-and yet I never seem to fulfill that plan as well as I hope. I can definitely say that grad school, especially any one in the medical field, is so fast paced and the material is all encompassing. Its SO incredibly important to stay on top of the material and do a little bit of work every day. Towards the end of the semester, I started not only pre-reading the slides but also making outlines that I could fill in during class and this was so helpful! I definitely plan on doing that from day 1 in Spring.
- Practice problems are ridiculously helpful! There are a ton of resources out there on the internet that give you the opportunity to test your knowledge on a subject (PA Easy and Exam Master are two great ones my class uses). Even if you end up making your own practice problems-something I did sporadically throughout the semester, its really helpful. When making my own practice problems, I tried to always group topics together. So if I was really confused on what kind of pneumonia was more typical of alcoholics, I would make a question on that. It forced me to think about the material more and spend that extra time differentiating between two similar topics.
- Cumulative finals suck. I literally have no other way of describing taking a cumulative clinical medicine final on Infectious Disease, Hematology, Neurology, Pulmonary, Cardiology, and Renal topics. Looking back on my studying for this exam, it would have been SO helpful if I had taken the time to make more simplistic notes during each section strictly for that final. So my advice is if you do have a cumulative final for any class-make your study materials during that section! Its so much easier than trying to go back and read all of the intense notes you have for that exam when you have 50 thousand other things you need to know.
- Sometimes it’s incredibly hard not to compare yourself to other students and wonder why you’re not doing the same as them. Learn to trust yourself and believe in yourself. Sometimes you’re going to need to readjust your expectations for yourself. That doesn’t mean your failing or struggling, but rather that you’re growing. Don’t put yourself down! It took me a while this semester to realize that while I may not learn the information as quickly or preform as well on the test doesn’t mean that I am not learning.
- Negative people make other people feel negative about themselves. But the thing to remember is it is not YOUR fault, but rather a problem on THEIR end.
- You’re in school to go to learn. If that means you need to take steps to ensure you’re learning the way you need to, make them and don’t for a second feel bad about it
Things I’m glad happened:
- Thank God for the gym. I can’t even begin to explain how nice it is when you’re having a bad day to go work it off. A lot of my frustration this semester, whether it was over feeling like I didn’t fit in, struggling to learn a complicated topic, or disappointment over a grade I made, was burnt off in the gym. And I’ve never been a huge gym person; I lack motivation to force myself to go, which is one of the reasons why I pay to do a workout class instead. While it may be expensive, its one of the best decisions I could have made.
- The different providers I have met this semester have been seriously inspiring. It is wonderful to hear from someone in the field that they believe in you and that you’re going to make a good provider. Remember that networking happens everywhere, and to always stay on your A game. Be proud of yourself and present yourself in that light.
- I have learned SO much, and I truly feel like I have retained most of it. I seriously feel confident that when I go into clinicals next year, I will be able to hold my ground and help diagnose and treat the patients that I see.
Always remember that facing challenges can be hard, and sometimes feel like more than you can handle, but they make you in to the wonderful person and provider that you’re destined to be!
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