What is PA School Like?
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What is PA School Like?


Hi guys! Thanks for tuning into again. Today
what I am going to talk about is “What was PA school like?” PA school usually consists
of twenty-four to thirty-six months for a typical masters program. Sometimes there’s
dual degrees Your first year typically consists of classroom work. It’s called your didactic
year. Where you tackle the body system by system or whatever your particular PA program
chooses to do it. What I’m going to reflect on is my personal experience because I know
that there are a lot of different PA schools out there and different programs. I went to
Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. It was a twenty-four month program. It started
in May, I believe. I had to go through this long process to eventually get permission
to take my remaining undergraduate exams early since PA school was actually going to start
before I even graduated my undergrad. So, I take my final exams. I know I have to get
above a certain grade or else they’ll retract my admission. But I attain those grades, graduated,
and immediately started PA school. We jumped right into it. We started off with some easier
courses like medical terminology beginnings of anatomy lab and how to write S.O.A.P notes.
Then it progressed to different systems of the body. Lock Haven was structured in a way
where you had two years of training. Your first year was made up of what we call a didactic
year. It consists of in classroom teaching. Usually you’re in class from 6-9 hours per
day. I think I averaged about 7-8 hours of class per day. Usually class started at 8am
and we finished at 4 or 5pm. Then I would leave class and have to study. I do remember
my didactic year being very long days. It got tough. Bought an espresso machine. That’s
how I got by. For me, I would spend most nights until 10 or 11pm studying and then wake up
again at 7am, get ready for class, go to class at 8 or 8:30 am, and then be there for the
entire day. Didactic year is actually fun. It’s rough, and it’s tiring, and it’s freshmen
fifteen all over again but it’s fun because you’re in class with same 20 to 40 people
depending on how big your class is all day every day. For my particular class we basically
sat in the same seats everyday. There were long tables, about five rows of them. We had
a blast. So, you finish out your didactic year then comes clinical rotations. My clinical
rotations ranged in length from 6 to 12 weeks each. We definitely covered our core specialties,
such as primary care, general surgery, emergency medicine, OBGYN, and stuff like that. You
had the option for two additional electives. Since I was a neuroscience geek and had my
heart set on potentially going into neurosurgery I chose to do a neurosurgery rotation as my
elective. I tacked my second elective onto my primary care rotation. Primary care was
already longer than your other rotations, purposefully, because the PA profession is
built around generalist type training presently which really emphasizes primary care. So your
primary care rotation was 8 weeks in length as opposed to the rest of your rotations which
were 6 weeks. Therefore, I had an 8 week primary care rotation and then I added on an additional
8 week 2nd primary care rotation as my elective. That was with a PA in my hometown so I got
to live at home, go work with her everyday, and get caught up on sleep which was nice.
Both years are really fun I had an absolute blast and I honestly think i got in the same
amount of trouble in PA school as I did in college. I don’t know how. I don’t know where
I found the time but somehow I did. Didactic year is tough, challenging, and sleep deprived.
Enormous amounts of information is being thrown at you. It’s like drinking out of a firehose.
It’s overwhelming and intense but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed being with my classmates
everyday. I actually enjoyed studying. I’m the type of nerd who looks forward to going
to Starbucks with my book, get a big cup of coffee, just sitting there, and immersing
myself in studying. I don’t know why. It’s just this weird quirk that I have. I really
like. Now my clinical rotation year was fun as well and that’s because some schools will
allow you to travel around and do rotations in different states. I chose to do my rotations
in Pennsylvania, New York, and Utah. I get asked all the time “Why did you choose Utah?”
I chose Utah because I’d never been there and I honestly knew nothing about the state
other than they have Sundance Film Festival there and that people ski. So I thought this
sounds fun. I’ve grown up in this east coast bubble and I thought it’d be pretty cool to
spend 6 weeks in a completely different state. I went there and I loved it. I was a bit overwhelmed
with the religious dynamic but I found the entire thing unbelievably interesting and
I really had a blast. I love my rotation there. It was general surgery. We got up at the crack
of down every day at 5 am. Was exhausted but I loved it. So, what were my favorite rotations?
My favorite rotations would be my general surgery rotation in Utah because my surgeon
was an unbelievably awesome human being. Shoutout to Dr. Anderson! I would also choose my neurosurgery
rotation because I had looked forward to immersing myself in neurosurgery for so long that I
could not wait to see a brain, touch a brain, operate on a brain, and just be in the OR
around a brain. Lastly, I would choose my ER rotation. Actually, no, I take that back.
Neurosurgery takes the cake. I also had quite an interesting dating experience during that
time too that just make it such a cool time in my life. What were my least favorite rotations.
My least favorite rotation would be primary care/family practice because of the monotony
of common cold, stuffy nose, headache that came through the door on a constant basis.
I had constant battle within myself because I wanted to look at them and say “A runny
nose? A runny nose is not a big deal why are you here? Yeah, that was hard. If I had to
pick 2 least favorite rotations my second choice could be pediatrics. Not because of
the content. I remember I was staying in awkward hospital housing and I did’t necessarily get
to know my attending as well as others. It wasn’t horrible. I just remember lots of well
child checks in an unfamiliar place in less than comfortable housing left me ready to
leave that rotation by the end of 6 weeks. Final thoughts. PA School is challenging.
It’s time consuming and exhausting. But those two years fly by. I don’t even know how they
go by so fast. It was definitely full of some of the best memories I’ve ever had. I met
some of the coolest people and I still stay in contact with them. I remember every day
going home and thinking “How do I learn such cool shit every day?” When not zoning out
I remember sitting in class and thinking “This is so cool.” I’m a total science nerd at heart
so it was a fun two years. If there is anyone out there who is interested in being a Physician
Assistant and the only thing keeping you from doing it is the two years of PA School you
need to go for it! It is so worth it! Those two years fly by. They’re insignificant. You’re
mind is blown. Don’t let those two years hold you up. Go! You need to go. You’ll meet some
of the coolest people, strike up some of the most long lasting relationships, and create
some of the coolest memories that you’ll probably ever have in your life. You need to go.

About James Carlton

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98 thoughts on “What is PA School Like?

  1. Ha-ha awesome! I'm from Utah, and I know how overwhelming the LDS aspect is for out of staters. Thanks for being a great resource!

  2. Did you have a job when you were in PA school? I know it sounds like an obvious question, but with the crazy busy schedule you have during PA school, it sounds like there is no time for a job to support yourself.

  3. Have you heard of the Littman 3100/3200 stethoscope? I have tinnitus and someone recommended this stethoscope for hearing loss/problems.

  4. Hi! Really appreciate your videos! I was wondering how important GPA was for you to get into PA school. I know it's very important but not the only thing they take into consideration for acceptance. I ask because while I'm not too worried about my overall GPA right now, I am a little concerned about my science GPA! I'm a Bio major and Chemistry has been especially challenging for me! Thanks!

  5. Your amazing! I'm from Utah and I'm a Mormon and I hear it's kinda scary to come into! I want to be a PA but I'm kinda scared of the school can anyone do it if they out there mind to it or is that just a fluke thing to say?

  6. You might not get into this topic but do you think you could possibly do a short video on why you should choose PA school vs Medical school? I can't decide myself 🙁

  7. I can't believe you went to Lock Haven!!! I'm an undergrad pre-PA major there right now just trying to survive finals this week. Glad to hear you had such a positive experience here!

  8. Thanks for the video! As a second year PA student this video was motivational! May 2017 can't come soon enough! Doing family practice rotation now and laughed about the redundancy and runny noses- amen! Glad to know it will all be worth it!

  9. Hello! I'm currently majoring in Public Health but looking into PA. However, I have a huge phobia of needles, as in almost passed out twice when trying to give blood during an exam. Is PA something I could even consider? I'm really enjoying your videos! 🙂

  10. Andrea, I just found your channel an snap chat and LOVE them! You're so funny and down to earth 😊 love your style too! Could you do so fashion/beauty vids? Thanks!

  11. Hey Andrea, I really liked your video! I was wondering why did you decide to go PA school versus Med school? I am currently a senior and my major is in a BS/MS program in Biotechnology (I'll be in my grad year in the summer 2017). I have been a CNA for almost 5 years and I plan to be a provider in the future. I would like to hear your opinion on PA school versus Med school.

  12. Hello, I am currently looking into PA school. I received my BS in science and currently work as a Radiographer. I have specialized training in CT with a current IV certification. Also, I have my BLS and ACLS, since I have experience in angiography, and registered medical assistant and phlebotomist. I was seeing if you think that will help me with trying to get accepted into PA school. I have had basic biology, chemistry,physics credits. I am just nervous because I went to Bloomsburg University for my undergrad, and only had a 2.75, but had a 4.0 during my radiology school. Any advice would be great, thank you.

  13. I'm a Junior in high school, I go to a technical high school and I'm in the medical assistant program. So with thinking about colleges also comes thinking about what I want to do. I know I want to do Pediatrics but I don't really know if I want to do it as a nurse or a PA. What made/helped you decide that you wanted to go into becoming a PA?

  14. Hi Andrea 🙂 I'm currently a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences (still deciding whether I'd like to pursue the PA or MD route) and was wondering if you've ever felt like just one didactic year wasn't enough to learn everything you need in the profession? Or if you've always felt prepared?

  15. I did the 2 years, I regret the PA school choice. I want to move and live with my husband but he is in Ireland, and Ireland Republic only has 4 of us, and no more just to ' check it out'. I have not seen my husband in almost 3 years going on a 4th, I would give anything to give the cert back and have them just erase my debt.

  16. sorry if this is personal, but if i may ask bc it would help a lot, what did you major in and what was your gpa and grades like?

  17. Hello! I am considering going the PA route, however I'm an Animal Science major. I originally wanted to go to Vet School (i.e Animal Science major). But now I am thinking I want to get more into health care. I have all the same requirements, 2 Chems, 2 Bios, O Chem, Bio Chem, and Micro Bio. Do you think it would matter for admissions if I'm an Animal Science major even though i fulfilled all the requirements?
    Thank you

  18. Hi im a new subbie and love your channel! im in the beginning phase of researching PA schools. right now im pursing my B.S in public health do you think i can get into PA school with this degree?

  19. Hi! I love your videos it's very helpful! I'm a undergraduate non traditional student, I'm planning to get my BS in Neuroscience or Biological Sciences to o to PA school, I looked into all the requirements but I'm "trapped" with the clinical experience paid job, so after I get my BS I will need to spend one more year of training (nurse or medical assistant) only to get the experience I need to apply to PA school? What usually PA students do? I even considered to become a nurse first so I can get my BS and experience. Is this a good path? Please help?

  20. Hi! I recently came across your channel and love it! I'm getting close to graduating from college and have realized that I want to be a PA but I won't have the pre-reqs to get into PA when I graduate. I've looked into doing a post-bacc for PA but all I find is for pre-med or nursing post-baccs. Would this mean that I would do a pre-med post bacc? I appreciate your help!

  21. Your videos are very helpful! I want to be a PA but still don't know what kind of clinical work I want to have before PA school. (Not a volunteering basis but paid) Any recommendations?

  22. Hey love the videos watching them all now, thanks!
    I worked in a treatment center for 6 months and a detox for 6 months as a chemical dependency technician. Do you think that would qualify for direct care patient hours? Or know anyone who had similar jobs that aren't exactly EMT, scribe or PTA?

  23. This fall I am going into a 5 year BS+MS PA Program right out of high school. Do you have any tips for how to get through it and maybe how to take notes effectively?

  24. What does a PA do during the surgery and ER rotation? It all seems exciting but I really don't want to partake in any surgery, it scares me so muchhh.

  25. So glad to see a fellow LHU PA School graduate talking about our amazing profession! My name is Kenyetta Harris and I graduated from the program in 2015. Love your channel and can't wait to see more of your videos 🙂

  26. This video was fun! I look forward to viewing more! I am currently torn between becoming a PA or MD. At one point my mind was made up about being a PA. I've shadowed in Ortho and Cardiology. I loved them both!! The surgeries were amazing. I was debating MD school because I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry for 13 years. I love the OR and had my eye on Anesthesia. The only routes I see for that are CRNA or Anesthesiologist. I am a little nervous about being hands-on in the operating room but your so right about always learning the coolest stuff everyday! I felt so amped up after hearing the end of your video..I may watch it again…There is nothing to it but to do it! I should be starting my prerequisites next month. Undergrad is taken care of 🙂 I have been researching the medial assistant route lately. I definitely will check on that again. Paramedic would be awesome but there is no time! Thanks for the video!

  27. I follow so many PA's on social media, some boring, some okay… but omg you kill me love you girl! you represent the profession well!

  28. Hi I love your videos I was wondering if during Pa school if you had a job and if not how did you pay for things thanks you so much I hope you can answer my question

  29. Hi I love your channel and am so glad I found it! I am currently a junior in college looking to go to PA school which means I need to apply soon (I am stressing out!) A lot of my friends have not been accepted to any schools despite their good GPAs and experiences. How hard is it to get accepted right out of college? and would you recommend attending an okay school immediately or taking a gap year and reapply the following cycle in hopes of getting into a better school? I would love to know your opinion and please post more videos; they are extremely helpful! Thank you!

  30. If it's not too personal, did you live on your own and how did you do it? It seems like it would be really hard to have a job and go to PA school. I want to be a PA and am just filled with questions and love your channel.

  31. do PA schools look down on people who take pre reqs at community colleges? I graduated years ago with a degree in special education but want to go back for PA school.

  32. Hello, My name is rana… And I'm really interested in becoming a PA, but I wanna get a BSN degree and then get some health care experience and apply to PA school. So I was wondering if nurses are strong candidates for PA school and if you had nurses in your PA class?
    Thank You, your videos are very helpful 🙂

  33. OMG Thank you soooooo much. I've always wanted to work with patients and do it right away and always thought medical school was the only way to go. But it would take 6-9 years which was too long of a wait. But a PA have rotations on the 2nd year!!! OMG IM GOINF FOR A PA THANKSSSSS

  34. New subscriber here🙋🏻 right now I'm majoring in biology but I've been going back and forth after getting a job under an O.D & M.D on whether or not I want to be an optometrist or a P.A.

  35. Hey Andrea, I loved your video it was really informative! I was wondering did you have to write papers in PA school or was it just test/exams? Also I know in Med school they do cadaver dissection do they do this in PA school as well? Thank you!

  36. I appreciate your videos so much, I love them! I'm currently a sophomore and have a good GPA and am in good standing. But I'm wondering if my GPA is high enough. Do PA programs typically care more about GPA or about research, internships, patient care volunteering hours, etc.?

  37. thank you soo much for this!! I'm in the process of changing majors. I was going for AT but now I'm going to go for PA. you were so encouraging! I do want to know how you feel about making time for yourself and having a personal life outside of school while in school? I recently got married and it is important to me to spend time with my husband? he obviously understands school commitment but I am fearful of having absolutely no time for him or a personal life

  38. Could you maybe do a video about how to go about paying off the loans after PA school? No one ever really talks about that, but I think it's something really important to know! Thank you and I love all your videos! 🙂

  39. is it true that PA's earn about 70k annually? also, do you need to have a certain number of volunteer hours in a medical center to get in PA school?

  40. I am in my fifth month of didactic now and my biggest fear is that I may be forgetting everything I am learning because of HOW MUCH information it is. Did you feel like the information came back to you in clinical or did you have to brush up on the information a good bit?

  41. I know this is a general question, but how hard would you say the material is in PA school? I'm currently in Radiology school, but I'm really considering PA school. I'm use to being sleep deprived as it is. I would say the material is hard in Radiology school because we cram so much information at once ,and we have such little time to learn it. Is PA school like that as well?

  42. I'm currently in ST school almost done 1 more semester 😬 anyways I'm thinking about continuing my education I most definitely want to continue to stay in OR. I've looked into PA school and hope to start in the next 2 years given the fact that I need 2 yrs of pt care experience to get into PA school but I wanted to know for you as a PA what is your role in the OR ? If you currently work in the OR? If not what information can you give on the role as a PA in the OR? Thanks in advance!

  43. also you are hella funny hahaha #goals!! i was fortunate enough to be able to go to my university's Pre-PA club meeting (cancelled Stats lab due to an exam the prior night) where you agreed to do a skype call with!! thank you for your time Andrea you da beztt

  44. what was your undergraduate degree? I am thinking of applying to PA school after finishing my criminal justice bachelors with a background of certified pharmacy tech jobs for the past 5 years … weird I know haha – found out that yale has an online PA program coming up

  45. I'm an EMT right now and your videos have pretty much solidified my decision to start college and go the PA route. Thank you

  46. I’m about to finish my Associates in Surgical Technology and will be working in the OR as I try to finish my BS in order to get into PA school (since I know we need medical hours to apply). Should I major my BS in Biology?
    And once I finish my BS. How long is PA school and do they have residency and have to move for residency?
    Thanks!

  47. I heard most people say it’s very hard to survive in the program but I am a very dedicated person and i really want to be a PA also I don’t have a problem studying, however am scared I won’t get in or I might not last in the program , from 1 to 10 how would you put the level of difficulty

  48. Just graduated x ray school recently. I want to go back to school either the Pa route or just go for CT, mri. I’m confused lol . I only have an associates degree though how will this effect me with getting into schools? I also live in NewYork.

  49. IM TRYING TO GO LOCK HAVEN!!! I was looking up all kinds of videos because I too want to become a physician assistant! And it’s mind blowing that you went there just by chance and it’s the first video I clicked on!!!!

  50. I first want to become a PA , earn and then become an MD….is that a good idea?? Quick reply would be appreciated please

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