1st Semester of PA School
Where to even start… PA school is such a rollercoaster- one day you feel good about your knowledge and like all you hard work is paying off, then the next day you feel like the stupidest person in your class and you’re super behind. My first semester was much more difficult than I ever expected. Even though I started the program with the knowledge that I would be challenged on a daily basis, PA school just took things to a whole other level. During undergrad, my schedule was crazy packed full- my last semester I aced all 18 credit hours, worked 30 hours a week doing research in my lab, exercised semi-regularly, and maintained a social life with minimal difficulty. During PA school, the struggle is so real- with going to class and studying sometimes for 15 hrs straight, I struggled to work out 4 times a week, grocery shop, cook, shower, and just perform normal daily tasks. On top of struggling with time management for the first time in my life, I also really struggled mentally and emotionally for the first time ever. Although some personal factors played a role in my mental and emotional state, PA school was definitely at the forefront by pushing me beyond my limits. My poor classmates saw me breakdown a few times (super embarrassing) and my poor parents were getting quite concerned because they had never seen me cry that much in my life. Most of these breakdowns happened in October, which was our hell month with 6 exams (including our head and neck anatomy exam!), multiple quizzes, and a paper.
Luckily for me, I had an amazing support system between my fantastic classmates and lovely parents, and I made it through that rough patch. Honestly, my classmates were my absolute rock! They made me hysterically laugh every day, they would teach me information I was struggling to understand, and they even made sure I would eat dinner after missing dinner several days in a row. I could not have asked for better classmates, I am happy to call them my PA fam!
After October, I started to change my perspective… I decided to stop comparing myself to others, stop thinking negatively, and stop dwelling on my failures. I started to focus more on the tasks at hand and on the significant amount of information I have learned thus far. Although maintaining a positive outlook may seem obvious, receiving subpar grades in healthcare-related courses for the first time was quite difficult for me and many other classmates to handle. However, at some point you have to realize that this is an extremely difficult master’s program, you are doing your absolute best, and as long as you pass the class the letter grade does not matter. Although the first semester was difficult for me and my honest depiction may appear negative, I actually learned a ton of information and I am quite proud of the progress I made in a single semester.
My anatomy course was by far the most difficult course I have ever taken in my life. My program provides us with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully dissect human cadavers in groups of 4, which is an absolutely amazing experience that allowed me to learn anatomy on an extremely deep level. I am thankful for the opportunity to dissect a human cadaver and I am proud of the amount of information I learned throughout the course, but you are learning about every bone, muscle, nerve, vein, artery, organ, lymph node, etc in the entire body while dissecting an entire human cadaver in 4 months… challenging and time consuming is an understatement.
My physical diagnosis class was such an interesting class that taught us how to perform a head to toe physical in one hour! Every class was a reminder of my ultimate goal to be a physician assistant, which was much needed a couple times a week. My pathophysiology I course taught us the basics in neurology, immunology, endocrinology, and cardiology, which was a useful course to help build upon our undergrad knowledge and prepare us for harder future courses such as clinical medicine.
So the first semester was definitely a struggle, but I learned a lot and became a much stronger person. I am hoping that I am more mentally prepared to handle the second semester (starting on Jan 7), but only time will tell. My second semester consists of pathophysiology II, clinical medicine I, biostatistics, and pharmacology.
Hopefully, you guys appreciate my honesty! If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on instagram!