So, I’m now more than halfway done with the first semester of PA school. And I’m exhausted. While much of this experience is what I was expecting, there have definitely been some surprises along the way. Looking back now, here are some of the things I wish I knew before entering PA school.
- It’s really as hard as everyone says it is. I know what you’re thinking: “oh she’s just saying that”. no. Its HARD. We learn so much material, so quickly, and we’re expected to know it in such detail. While yes, I was expecting it to be hard, I wasn’t expecting this. To be honest, I kind of coasted through undergrad. Sure, I studied and put in effort, but most of my classes weren’t all that difficult. I need to put in a ton more effort to get grades I would have been disappointed with in undergrad. Here, getting a B is cause for celebration most of the time. A lot of people compare the didactic year to trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. It’s totally true.
- What you should take from this: get into good study habits now! Actually learn and comprehend the material instead of just memorizing it for a test and then dumping it later. Learn how to talk to professors and ask them for help.
- I’m not the smartest person. I had huge dreams for PA school. I was going to be the smartest kid in the class and get a 4.0 for all my semesters. HA. no. I’ve definitely had to realize that I don’t know everything and that my peers are way smarter than me. Literally, I learn so much from them on a daily basis and its wonderful. We all come from so many backgrounds and that affects what we know. I know a lot about babies (coming from Peds) and not a whole lot about EKGs. Some of my classmates literally didn’t have to study at all for our cardio physiology test. It doesn’t mean I’m stupid, it just means I need to accept I need help some time
- What you should take from this: Literally take this to heart. Being a PA means you are in an ever growing, learning career. There is ALWAYS going to be someone who knows more than you do. Accept it and move past it.
- Asking for help isn’t a sign of failure. Once again, I had HUGE dreams for myself coming into school, but not all of them have come true. I’ve had to adjust how I study, how I think, and how I take exams (we take them on iPads). And let me tell you, at first, I didn’t want to ask for help. I thought that asking for help would make my professors realize I didn’t deserve to be here. That is so far from the truth-they’re here to help me. Asking for help means I understand that I, well, NEED HELP. Its not a weakness or something to be ashamed of. It’s part of life. And let me tell you, asking my classmates for help is a lifesaver. Listening to someone else explain it (who doesn’t have a PhD in the subject) is wondrous. Talking it out, forming groups, all of that is a great learning opportunity.
- What you should take from this: Start now! Ask for help, talk to your classmates, do all of it.
- Sleep doesn’t always exist. I like naps. My entire family likes naps. Naps are wonderful. Honestly, I may even LOVE naps (yeah I definitely do). Naps in PA school? HAHA NO. Somehow when I lay down to “nap” it turns into like 3 hours because I’m in class from 9-5, wake up at 6:30 (construction next door I HATE YOU), and go to bed as late as I need to so I can get all my work done. Honestly, weekends turn into me catching up on sleep a lot of the time. But its something I need to cut down on to be prepared. And I thought I would be okay since I worked 12 hour shifts, but school is honestly more exhausting than work.
- What you should take from this: phase out naps now. Get used to waking up early and doing something all day. Find out what kind of coffee you love. Learn how to fall asleep quickly. Learn how to catnap for 20 minutes and actually wake up!
- You need to take “you” time. I totally believed PA school wouldn’t be that hard and I would have time to myself to do different things and that I would explore DC (heck even made a section on my blog about it). None of those have really happened. But it really is so important to focus on yourself sometimes. Whether its me taking a bath, cooking, watching netflix, and snuggling Callie; it makes me feel a million times better. A big goal I have for myself is to find more time for me to do “me” things. I want to go back to working out and running. And eventually (probably next semester I will). But its important to remember I am just as important as school
- what you should take from this: Start doing this now. Find something you love and stick to it. Find a hobby. Have a friend who holds your accountable, anything.
- There is no such thing as a stupid question. I have a tendency to get embarrassed asking questions. I don’t want to be “that girl”. But honestly, if I’m thinking it, normally other people are to. And anything that helps you understand whats going on, isn’t a stupid question. It’s how we learn and we’re going to need to do it when we deal with patients.
- what you should take from this: challenge yourself to ask a question a day to learn something new. Its a good habit to have.
- I’m the youngest person here. So this may be a little less relevant to everyone else, but its weird. I definitely wasn’t expecting to have so much less life experience than some of my classmates. And its weird when I tell them I call my mom so much. But honestly, I think its great that PA school is so open to everyone! I have peers with teenage children, a baby on the way, a new fiance, who are single or married. And its great. We all have such different lives and its a great way to learn about each other. We fit together so well. So while I felt awkward at first, being the youngest doesn’t matter at all.
- what you should take from this: WHO CARES ABOUT YOUR AGE!
Remember, PA school is just two years. And this too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.