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.