Tag Archives: Grad school

Fresh Faced Students

19 Apr
frobaby

This is how old the college students looked to me!

I had the pleasure of talking to a pre-pa student group at the University of Minnesota Duluth.  On Thursday I picked up my girls from the bus stop and we had an impromptu road trip to the north shore.  My mom joined us and we made an event out of it.  We arrived at the hotel that had a ridiculous indoor water park and I left them to meet with the pre pa group.  I had a couple of observations about these college students.

First of all, they must have been uber smart because there was not a single one that looked over the age of twelve. They had bright eyes, and wore their backpacks correctly with straps on both shoulders.  The group consisted of mostly women, and they were eager!  One of them was going to graduate from college and then head directly into a PA program.  Others are only freshmen, already with a passion for medicine and the PA profession.

I talked a while about my journey to becoming a PA, my career, and briefly about my coaching business.  The thing they wanted to hear about the most?  Patient encounters.  The stories from the ER captivated them and they wanted more.  Storytelling is one of my favorite things to do, especially when I have a captive audience.  These students reminded me of my own drive that got me into PA school and my love of patient care.

I also felt a little anxious on their behalf.  What if they don’t get into school?  What if the academics prove to be too hard?  What if they are too young to know that this is the career choice that is best for them?  I took two years off after college to explore some of those questions and I knew the PA profession was right for me.  Sometimes I feel that PA programs are filling with younger and younger students that have the academic aptitude, but not the life experience that can be beneficial for a career in health care.

Here is a piece of advice from this old lady of 33 years.  If you are sure that you want a career as a Physician Assistant, go for it!  When you know, you know!  But if there is hesitancy, a small voice that says, “I’m not sure”, that’s OK.  It is wise to listen to that voice and slow down.  There is time to think, to experience life, to travel, to take more classes, before you make a decision that will affect your life immensely.  Going to grad school is big!  It is a significant financial and time commitment.  And the beautiful thing about PA school is that it will be there next year, and having some of those life experiences will look good on an application.  More importantly, those life experiences will shape you into a more mature and wiser person.

I finished with the pre-PA group and headed to the hotel.  The waterslides were wicked fun and I had a moment of being very thankful.   Thankful for my family, and thankful that I have a career that allows me to bring my kids for a fun overnight.  And I am thankful for the bright young minds that are going to be the future of the PA profession.

Rejection Happens

16 Dec

dead end

The letter came. I was sitting in my new boyfriend’s car. The envelope was little, making me immediately on edge. I pulled the single sheet of paper out and unfolded it, only reading the first line. The words are burned into my memory, “We regret to inform you….” Of what? That my dreams are crushed? That I am deemed not worthy of your facility? That I am a complete failure?

When getting into a physician assistant program you are competing with hundreds of highly qualified, passionate, and bright people. Many of us are used to doing well in school and achieving what we want in life. Many of us are people that stay late, study harder, and prioritize our future for what we want to accomplish. That is why it seems to sting when someone tells us that we are not accepted into a program that we were BORN to get into.

Here is my simple message to you today. Keep going. That one rejection letter may turn into two, or three, but if you are perseverant and you know that you are qualified, then keep going. If you are tired, keep going. If you are frustrated, keep going. If you are losing your mind….take a break!

This is a competitive field and rejection letters are common. Don’t let it keep you from your dream career. How have you dealt with rejection? Share with us in the comments below.

Wounds and Generators: My Health Care Experience

14 Oct
IMG_1059

Talking to a cholera patient in Limbe, Haiti

Becoming a Physician Assistant is not a light decision. It makes sense that programs would expect you to have experience in healthcare prior applying for school. Seeing as this is a decision that may guide you to happiness or your own destruction, you should check it out first! No pressure.

I never knew about the PA profession until my sister married one. For six months after college I did some serious soul searching. Med school? PA school? Did I mention that those six months were spent in Haiti? The time I spent there was indescribable. The improvisation and just barely getting by every second never ceased to amaze me. The Haitian doctor I worked with allowed me to suture, administer vaccinations, start IVs, preform pelvic exams and help with the start up of a clinic in rural Haiti. This is the hands on experience that PA programs are looking for.

We had a patient that came to the clinic for a severe asthma attack. She was wheezing, tachypneic, using accessory muscles, and lots of other stuff that made her look really sick. The electricity went out (again) so we hooked the nebulizer up to a generator. She was sitting there with a neb as the exhaust from the generator spewed into her face. Seemed counterproductive but we had no better options.

There was another patient who had an accident 12 years before and had a penetrating wound to the lower back. Because he was a diabetic he had very poor circulation and wound healing. I pulled out a snakelike bandage from his wound and changed it daily. 12 years and it still was not healed.

These are the kind of experiences that made me stand out during my interview (yes, one). But if I was not genuine they could have smelled it before I came through the door. You have to love patients. You have to love medicine. You need the experience that proves this, more than just being an occasional volunteer at your local hospital. What kind of experiences helped you to decide to get into the PA profession?

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.

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