Ok. So… it’s been a minute. I really have no excuse but that of the life of a PA student. Since I last posted our class has had a crazy whirlwind week (plus) of Summer I finals, a marvelous 2-week summer break, and all of the Summer 2 module including another set of finals. There is WAY too much to get into one post so I’m going to back track to Summer I finals and then over the next couple weeks bring you up to date.
When I asked a second year student what to expect about the didactic year, one of the first things they told me was that if I could make it through July, I could make it through PA school. In essence telling me that the hardest part of the didactic year was in the Spring and Summer I modules. I’m hoping that’s true because man, those modules were hard! Summer I is an extension of Spring in regards to the class schedule, but just a shorter time frame. This means there are less tests, but each test (and each final) was worth more overall. For me that meant that finals “week” (7 tests within 9 school days) was very difficult (read stressful).
While it was a stressful period there were several things that helped me make it through. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the camaraderie of our class. We are a united class. 38 individuals who have come together to help and support one another. When one person is struggling with a subject there’s always someone there to help. For example, during our EKG section, one student who was particularly good with recognizing the rhythms held several “mini” classes. For several days in the evening after a full day of classes they would put up rhythms on the screen and go through how to read them, giving classmates hints and help when they faltered.
We don’t really discuss grades. No one brags about getting the highest grade or having the highest GPA. It isn’t a competition, but a cooperation. Another example of not just scholastic support but emotional support came to me right before finals. When I was feeling down and almost overwhelmed about the upcoming tests, I received the following statement from a classmate. She had been feeling something similar and wanted me to share her thoughts with you. It helped me remember my purpose and that I wasn’t alone.
“You are a hurricane… Remember to breathe every once in a while- do not drown in your own storm.”
I am a student in PA school and I have that quote on sticky note on my laptop as a daily reminder. It’s hard with all of its exams and memorization and late nights studying (you know- “knowing all the things”). There are times that I don’t know how I am going to do it and I am drowning in my storm, but I was blessed with a family of classmates that pull me out of the deep. They remind me of my power and ability when I have forgotten. It is a cohesive plethora of love, compassion, and support that I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars. I have found those people who inspire me, push me, and understand me more than I ever thought 37 other people could.
My storm is so small. I get caught up in my own downpour that I don’t see I’m only in puddles compared to the system that surrounds us. We are hurricanes. Not because of our storms, but because of our power and unmatched ability. We combine a multitude of forces to become something potentially unstoppable. Do not lose sight of that. Do not get caught in the storm of it all. Remember you are a hurricane. Remember to breathe.
-A first year classmate
Another thing that helped me through finals was prioritizing. For me that entailed making a list of the things I needed to do and focusing on what was most important (usually what was coming up next.) Taking it one item at a time and not focusing on the overall number of things on the list.
A very important part of surviving PA school (and finals in particular) is giving your mind a break! Take time to cook a nice meal, go for a run, watch a TV show, or whatever you need to do to just decompress, before diving back in to your studies. This can truly help reinvigorate your ability to focus and remember. And don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep!
So remember you are not alone! There are people there for you. Take a minute, prioritize, then get to work and don’t forget to take a mental break when needed!
Here are a few teaser pics of what I’m going to write about next!
Until next week!