Today is the first day of orientation for the new crop of PA students at my school. School starts only once a year and I can’t believe it’s already been that long since I was in their shoes. As the Chief Ambassador this year for my program I have been in charge of their Facebook group and have seen their excitement, anticipation, anxiety, and nervousness as they get ready to start this new journey of their lives. I remember those feelings strongly.
So … as PA schools around the country get prepared to start a new class and continue to accept new students I thought I would put together some tips for all the fresh-faced PA students. These may not be conventional but they are truthful and many of the words in this post can be applied to chasing ANY dream 🙂
1. Let go of perfection.
I know … that’s a tall order. PA students are classically Type A to the core and maybe borderline OCD. But trust me, being perfect in school won’t make you a perfect PA. What grades you get serve very little correlation to how good of a PA you will be. Some of the best Physician Assistants I know did fine in school, maybe struggled a bit. Being a good healthcare provider goes beyond the academic core … it comes down to who you are. So strive to be the best version of you you can be. Put your patients first. Learn as much as you can and when you get a grade that might upset you shake it off and move on to the next.
2. This is a privilege
Becoming a Physician Assistant student is a goal you have worked hard for and have earned but make no mistake … being a PA is a privilege and not a right. Don’t ever forget the important work you are doing and who you will serve. You will be caring for someone’s mother, father, wife, grandfather, and child. Caring for people when they are most vulnerable and having them trust you is an unbelievable privilege that should never be taken for granted.
3. You will have moments of doubt.
And that’s ok. When you’re knee-deep in studying and you start dreaming about diagnostic tests and treatment options you are going to wonder why you are putting yourself through the hell is PA school. In those moments think back to your why. What brought you here in the first place? If it was the idea of money … well that won’t be enough to get you through because there is never enough money. If it was because this is your passion then hold on to that ember and let it burn.
4. Make time for the things you love.
Just because you’re in PA school doesn’t mean you can’t have a life. It just requires a balancing act and as a friend (Carla) reminded me …. harmony. PA school is PART of your life but it is NOT your life. You have to make time to do the things you care about whether that be fitting in fitness, reading a book, or going to Bible study. It also means making time for the people you care about. I use my commute to call my family and friends to stay in touch. If you’re in a relationship make sure to foster that relationship. You have to make time for your significant other and make it quality time for the lack of quantity.
5. Enjoy the journey.
It goes by faster than you ever thought it could go. I am so close to being done with didactic and clinicals are on the horizon. Speaking to my mentor in the program she said clinicals go by even faster. So soak up this journey, embrace the safety of didactic year, and do the best you can. Before you know it you will be pushed out of the nest and into the real world of practicing medicine 😉