Now, in my final months of PA school, I think back to when I was an applicant and asked previous students what it was like during the didactic year and how they managed the workload.
I will share with you what I have shared with friends who are now either accepted to a PA program or in the middle of the application process.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that acquiring a master’s degree as a PA is different than undergraduate studies. The workload is much more intensive and the information is largely comprehensive, on a level far beyond a college education.
That being said, a balance between school, work and the minimal free time available is the key to surviving the didactic and clinical years.
Your first year will be spent mostly in the classroom and your favorite study place. You will have great lecturers on all the major aspects of medicine during the day and in the evenings, and you will have to review to gain a deeper understanding of the information you were taught. Then, you will face multiple exams weekly with few breaks in between.
During those mini-breaks, however, make sure to take a second and congratulate yourself. Appreciate the hard work you have put in and treat yourself to your favorite food or an enjoyable activity that will separate your mind from all the work still to come.
Once refreshed, find the motivation that drove you to make it that far and re-focus on achieving your ultimate goal of becoming the best PA you can be.
In addition, lectures and studying can become overwhelming and draining. Consequently, many students forget to take care of themselves not only mentally but physically as well.
Make sure you eat and sleep well. Undoubtedly, there will be nights where you must restrict your sleep to prepare for an exam, but once finished, compensate for the sleep you lost.
PA school is a beautifully tiring and ambitious journey that anyone can succeed in, but the key is to still find the time to do the things that bring you tranquility and happiness. By doing so, your passion for becoming a future PA will override the stress school entails and before you know it, graduation will be just around the corner.
Andrea Morgado is a current student at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y.