This week I started my first clinical rotation, and it’s crazy for me to think that I’ve finally reached this point. Didactic year was crazy and draining, both mentally and physically. The person I am now is so different than the person that I was when I entered school a year ago.
So officially, I finished didactic year 2 weeks ago, and I thought about posting my reflections of the year that weekend, but decided that having some extra time to reflect would make the post more enjoyable for you guys (i.e. I would be less jaded). I tend to describe PA school as Medical School on steroids, just since the programs are a lot more condensed. So instead of two years of didactic (book) learning followed by two years of clinicals, we do one year of didactic and one year of clinicals. Some PA programs are longer than other (up to 3 years), but the program I’m in is 24 months. When you think about how much information there is in medicine, it’s crazy to think that we try to learn it all in just one year. However, I can definitely say I’m pleasantly surprised at how much information I learned and how well I’ve been able to retain and integrate that information.
Over Summer Semester: 178 lectures — 5677 slides — 15 exams, 23 quizzes,
Over Fall Semester: 225 lectures — 9741 slides — 14 exams, 17 quizzes
Over Spring Semester: 224 lectures — 11061 slides — 14 exams, 27 quizzes
I would say the biggest thought I have now that I’m past the craziness of the year is that I can’t believe that I made it, and I can’t believe how fast it flew by. There were so many moments when I thought about giving up. Moments when I was exhausted, moments when I felt beaten down, moments that I doubted if I could really practice medicine.
I didn’t have the best GPA. I struggled to learn how I needed to study. Taking exams made me doubt everything I had learned. I questioned whether I deserved to be amongst my classmates, who all seemed to have it more together than me.
The books I used over summer, fall, and spring semesters
But I can’t believe how much I learned, and how so much of it was beyond the medicine learning I was expecting.
I learned that I was not as smart as I thought I was, but that doing my best was all I could ask of myself.
I learned to be careful about what I said and how I acted, because there will always be people who use those things as weapons against you.
I learned how to say that I don’t know or don’t understand something, and how to ask for help.
I learned to have more respect for myself, and that standing up for what I believed in was one of the most important things I could do.
I learned the importance of kindness and empathy, not just in regards to your patients but also your colleagues.
I learned how to admit I was wrong, and grow from my experiences.
I learned what kind of provider I want to be, but more important, what kind of person I want to be in life.
And then I learned all of those amazing medical things. All of the facts and tests and diseases that make me so excited for the day when I’ll be a provider.
I learned everything from taking a history to preforming a physical exam to actually diagnosing and treating a patient. On diseases in Ob-Gyn to Geriatrics, Dermatology to Cardiology.
I fell in love with the way the body works.
I got to experience doing a pelvic exam on a real, live woman. And a prostate exam on a man.
I made pamphlets for a community health center, raised money for a burn clinic in Africa.
I went from stuttered and stumbling during oral presentations to getting a 99% on my final one.
So overall, I really can’t complain about my Didactic year experience. Do I wish it had gone smoother? Absolutely. But do I regret the things that happen? Not so much.
For those of you getting ready to enter school, remember that for all those moments it’s hard and you doubt yourself, you deserve to be there. But don’t give up fighting. PA school is a marathon, not a sprint.
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