Considering the amount of time I spend on Instagram, I have been seeing SO MANY “first week of PA school” posts and they really have me in my feelings thinking about last year when I was in that position. (Speaking of, check out what I wore to orientation!) Your beautiful and excited faces have inspired me to write about things I wish I had known for the first week of school, as well as some tips on what worked out well for me (and what didn’t)! Congratulations on such a monumental accomplishment in your academic and professional careers! The average PA program in the United States receives anywhere from 700 to over 1,000 applicants per year and typically less than 100 are selected each cycle (PAEA). Long story short → YOU ROCK and there is a reason you were selected. Take a deep breath and know that you are caPAble!
1 – Choose your seat wisely!
This is truly more of a personal preference thing but ever since undergrad I have tried to get a seat in the FRONT of every class. Not only is it helpful to see and hear more clearly, I am much more likely to pay attention and stay off Facebook if I feel like the teacher is watching me. (They probably couldn’t care less what I’m doing but in my mind, they’re taking note!) It also keeps me on my toes because I sit in constant fear of being called on to answer questions — even more reason to pay attention! In my class, after we took our seats that very first week, we stayed there for the rest of the year! We are creatures of habit.
2 – Get to know your classmates and consider their leadership potential.
It goes without saying that you will need to make friends and form study groups throughout your time in school (Duh). During the beginning of the school year, your class will most likely have to elect class officers or representatives who will act a liaison between your entire class and the faculty. It will make your entire year much easier if you select someone who is organized, responsible, and eager to do the job. Our president (& my sweet friend) Katie does a fantastic job of keeping things running smoothly, making sure the class is in the know, and ensuring that our feedback and opinions are taken seriously by faculty! If this sounds like something you’d be good at, considering running for a leadership position yourself.
3 – Start Strong (and create what I call a “burn-out cushion”)
You will more than likely have full lectures in each class on the first day. The undergrad phenomenon known as “syllabus day” is far behind you. You can pretty much count on what you learn this week to be on your first exam and, before sh*t gets real, you want to start out as strong as possible. You will be extra motivated to study a little each day, be very organized, and soak in all this exciting new knowledge which will lead to a bomb test grade! By the 4th exam, that excitement and motivation has been replaced by stress-eating and naps in your car between classes. If you have great grades early on in the semester, you’ll have a nice cushion to pad whatever stumbles you may have later on (like during the neuro portion of physiology). It’s okay to fall sometimes (it’s inevitable), what matters is that you get back up!
4 – Thou Shalt Not Compare Thyself
My path to PA school was unique in that I had no clinical experience outside of shadowing and volunteer work. I’m also one of the youngest people in the class. Because my classmates seemed to have so much healthcare experience, I felt extremely intimidated and like I was already behind. After confiding in a teacher about this, I was told that “PA school will teach you everything you need to know. It doesn’t matter what you know or don’t know right now. Trust the process.” Now, as a second year, I know that this is true and that I had so much to gain from my classmates’ knowledge. In class, I sit next to an awesome woman who is a former flight paramedic and pretty much knows everything (Shout out to you, Amber)! This has been such an advantage because I can ask her my questions during class or have her explain something super quickly. (Remember what I said about picking a good seat!). Don’t compare yourself to your classmates. Learn from them.
Sending all of you beautiful people positive vibes as you embark on a truly life-changing journey! As always, drop me a comment or follow me on IG @coutureinclinic!
Love and light,