Physician Assistant programs are notoriously rigorous. As an incoming student, the years that lie ahead seem insurmountable. And then … before you know it you’ve hit the ground running and you’re well on your way. It’s now day 102 of what may very well be the most challenging 26 months of my life, but despite the challenges that PA school has thrown my way I couldn’t be happier. I’m not trying to minimize the sacrifices that my classmates and I make in order to become PAs, but at the end of a long week of classes punctuated by a challenging exam I feel lucky to be here and truly excited by what I am learning every day.
Until this point, much of my progress as a PA student has been measured by practical and written exams. Throughout the summer I was presented with a range of classes from Anatomy to Pathophysiology; each one helping to build a strong foundation of knowledge that will support me in my clinical medicine courses. Coursework was condensed into questions that challenged my ability to synthesize tremendous amounts of information and begin to apply it in a clinical context. I felt the growing pains of once again learning to be a student – this time in an entirely different type of academic environment. For the first time everything I was learning in school felt relevant and important. After all, one day someone’s life may depend on everything I was learning.
Fall quarter has now begun and there is a buzz in the air as we begin a highly anticipated mentoring program. Each member of our cohort is paired with a PA in the community who helps us connect the information that we are learning in class to the patients we will see in future practice. Hands on experience makes it all the more real. Mentoring allows us to practice the skills that we have been taught in a different type of environment. Most importantly, in the midst of long days of studying we are reminded of what lies ahead and why we are here in the first place.
Yesterday was my first visit to the urgent care center where I have been assigned this quarter. Despite some nervous energy and the unavoidable imposter syndrome that we all face from time to time I had an incredible experience. I was amazed by how calm I felt as I conducted patient interviews and physical exams, and couldn’t believe how much I retained from a chaotic summer quarter. Before too long I got my nerves under control and I found myself having a lot of fun. While I’ve never wavered from my desire to be a PA since starting school, mentoring renewed my enthusiasm and I felt an incredible sense of connection with what I have been working towards. I know that there is still quite a long road ahead, but I couldn’t be happier with the path that I’ve taken.
Until next time!