Practice what I preach
As a PA student I am incredibly busy—going to lectures, studying, developing clinical skills and rotating through different areas of medicine.
Through all of this it is important to actually practice what I plan on educating my patients about. I cannot expect my patients to exercise and eat right if I don’t do it. My plan to stay healthy is simple: Pack my lunch the night before class and workout as often as possible.
An hour workout is not going to have a significant impact on my studying. And remember that exercise does not just mean going to the gym—it can be playing soccer with your fellow classmates, doing a simple circuit in your backyard or jogging around the neighborhood.
Rock clinical rotations!
At my program we start our clinical rotations in the spring semester of our second year, and with each day we get more excited and nervous to start this next adventure. Every day at my clinical site, I want my mindset to be: Do no harm, learn as much as possible and work harder than the day before.
Clinical rotations provide such a vital opportunity for us to learn medicine, and a never-ending hunger to learn something new every day is a great way to tackle them.
Become involved outside of PA school
It can be joining an organization at your school, in your local area, at the state level, or at the national level with the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Student Academy of AAPA (SAAAPA), the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) or a PA specialty group.
By becoming involved, I will learn more about the PA profession, and I will get unique opportunities to educate others about what PAs can do. There are also endless job and networking opportunities that come with these activities.
I plan to challenge myself either in the clinic, in the classroom or in my personal life. This may involve public speaking, or using my limited Spanish language skills to do a history and physical on a patient. Take a step outside your comfort zone and see how it can help you.
Switch from learning for a test to learning for life
As I start my second year, the grades become less important and my desire to learn and understand as much as possible takes over. By now I have taken so many tests, they could give me one every week, and I really would not care. My focus is on gaining knowledge, skills and resources so I can best serve patients!
Chase Hungerford is in his second year at the University of Southern California’s Primary Care Physician Assistant Program. Read his blog, Aspiring Physician Assistant.