Archive | August, 2014

How to Survive Your Didactic Year

29 Aug

I initially thought that grad school was going to be chill.  Show up when you can, study independently, own your own schedule.  Not the case.  During the orientation week we had a class on cadaver sensitivity.  My mom was a flight attendant and had a layover in Philly so I decided to catch breakfast with her.  I entered the classroom late during a five minute break.  I was promptly asked to leave.  Embarrassed, ashamed, outcasted!  I had to meet the director of the program for a “special” meeting and had to watch a video and write a paper on my own time.  What?! I’m an adult, I can choose what lectures I feel are important.  This is not the case for PA programs.  Your body is now theirs, your time, theirs.  Get used to it and embrace it.  There is good reasoning behind this.  The first year is so highly concentrated in new information that if you want to actually pass your Pance you have to show up.  More importantly, the responsibility of people’s health and well being rests on your shoulders.  Don’t skip that myositis lecture….it may come in handy.  The following are a few other points that I found out the hard way.

1) Be present, duh

2) Get enough sleep, seriously.  Coffee only gets you so far.

3) Try to know the material that is going to be lectured on prior to class time.  The subject will make so much more sense if you take 10 minutes beforehand to read through the main outline.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the lecture.  There was a lot of eye rolling going on from fellow students over those that asked frequent questions, but guess what?  We all were better for getting that extra information.

5) Study groups and index cards rule.

6) Get a tudor if you need one.  Ain’t no shame in spending some extra dough to make sure you are successful.  In the long run it will be worth it.

7) Keep a hold of your soul, somehow.  Pray, meditate, go to yoga once in a while, don’t forget your faith in God, if you have that.  A well rounded PA is a good one.

8)  Exercise.

9)  Let loose sometimes!  Get to know those people that are walking the same difficult path and have fun with them.

10) Keep in mind that the end is never that far and you should be proud of yourself for getting into a program and choosing a profession that will bring awesomeness for your entire career.


First Rotation

28 Aug

Here is a picture of the end point.  Or I guess the beginning.  Long before you get a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies you have to enter into a grueling didactic year and than an even more grueling rotation year.  Let me back up a little and let you know how I got to Philadelphia University.  It all started when I was rejected by my home town program in Minneapolis, MN.  Augsburg College.  The Mecca of PA programs in the midwest.  I obviously had a safety school….which I did not get accepted into.  So I submitted my very expensive application to Philly U, PU for short.  I flew out for an interview and tah dah! moved to Philly months later.

I have lived internationally multiple times in my late teens and twenties, but nothing prepared me for the culture shock of the East Coast.  I moved into a house with four strangers and off we went.  First of all the house was in Manayunk, what kinda name is that?  Hot, steamy, cement everywhere.  Ah, the memories are many from that first year.  I will get back to the didactic year but today I am going back to my first rotation…

So there I was.  My short, snow white, pa student coat.  My frumpy “professional” clothing.  My “I’m gonna change the entire healthcare system” attitude.  I walked into an inner city primary care office and tentatively knocked on the open door of my attending’s office.

“Who the fuck are you?” was the first question out of his mouth.  I stood there and awkwardly tried to explain that this was the first day of my first rotation.  That was a long twelve weeks.  This doctor I worked with called himself white chocolate.  He was a Caucasian who did work with a primarily african-american patient population.  And it was true that his patients adored him.  But the number of off color, rude, and demeaning comments that came out of his mouth was astounding.  Although going to that office every day was painful, I learned a lot about how to adjust your practice style to reach different cohorts.  I also learned to let some things roll off my back.  There were lots of moments where I felt belittled, but I kept going and I was able to learn a different kind of compassion.  Maybe my conservative, reserved, swedish style would not work with many, no most, of the patients we PAs are in the business to reach.    So hang in there during those tough moments.  Take a second to look at the world from a different point of view.  Try not to shut down when you don’t understand the whole situation.

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