Intramurals, Finals and AAPA Conference!

Man how times flies in PA school! I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post! I’m really excited to have Mackenzie as my Blog Buddy and look forward to reading her blogs about the clinical year. I know they’ll be helpful for me!

So to catch you up, I have to first give a long due shout out to our stellar PA-S intramural sand volleyball and women’s soccer teams. They had some big games at the beginning of the month. The volleyball team made it to the semifinals and lost by 1 point! It was an epic battle. The women’s team played in the championship game against the PT team. It was a fun and “friendly” graduate face off. Unfortunately, the PT team won, but it was a hard fought battle. I think it shows just how awesome our class is that a majority of us showed up to cheer our teams on in their big games.

We had a fun filled week-plus of finals the first part of May where we had a test every day. I actually liked how the tests were scheduled and was grateful we didn’t have them all in one day. Leading up to finals we had some great review sessions and even had a bagel breakfast party where bagels were provided and the class brought a bunch of other goodies. You can see how healthy we are in the picture. It was a great way to power up before finals.

Finals went well, we all passed (never any doubt:), and then we scattered for a week off. Some of my classmates ended up in Utah, Florida, Illinois and a variety of other places across the U.S. over the week. A large group of us, 17-including some second years, flew to San Antonio to attend the American Academy of Physician Assistants national conference. Our program is INCREDIBLE and was able to pay for our hotel rooms and our airfare for the trip!

I had a blast at the conference. We stayed at the Westin Riverwalk Hotel which was just a hop, skip, and a jump from the beautiful Riverwalk and a few minutes from the conference center. There were so many interesting presentations that I didn’t have time to attend them all! There were some geared specifically for students on subjects like job placement, loan repayment, finding the right specialty, helpful apps for studying, and more. There were also presentations geared to help fulfill continuing education hours for certified physician assistants. I found some of the student sessions to be more helpful than others, and the regular sessions the most interesting of all. It was so neat to be among working PA’s, going through a presentation, and actually understanding (most of) what was going on!

They had two keynote speakers, including Kevin Lacz, PA-C, a former Navy SEAL sniper, combat medic, and star in the movie, “American Sniper.” His presentation was funny, thought provoking, and incredibly motivating. One thing he said really stuck with me, it was something like “the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it now will make a difference in your life and the lives of your patients in the years to come.” I’m not gonna lie, finals were HARD, and I was mentally exhausted, but when he said that it really helped me put everything into perspective. Yes, most of my time is spent studying right now, but the reason I am studying is so that I can treat and help real people in real life. It’s easy to get bogged down in the lectures, tests, and hypothetical patients and forget the end goal. He also emphasized that complacency kills, and as a PA this can be quite literal. Even after PA school is over and I become a practicing PA I can never stop learning. I need to always be seeking the latest information and treatments to better help and serve my patients.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the Challenge Bowl. The challenge bowl is basically a medical knowledge competition. Over 80 schools sent teams of 3 students to participate. We, of course, were there to cheer our team on loud and proud in our best Elon gear. To first narrow the teams down, every team competes in an electronic round. They are given multiple choice questions with clickers to record their answers and are scored by if their answer is correct and how fast they answered. The top 32 teams would then compete on stage in groups of 4 where they would be read questions and have to buzz in first with the correct answer. Then the winners of each round would compete until eventually there was only one team. Our amazing team made it on stage, but lost by only a few points in that round. I think top 32 is a great showing, especially when you consider that our program starts about 6 months later than almost all of the others (and 6 months in PA school is A LOT).

Now don’t worry, we did take some time to relax. We had the chance to lay by the pool in the sun, walk along the Riverwalk, visit the Alamo and eat at some delicious local restaurants. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with my classmates outside of class and study groups. It was also a lot of fun getting to know some of the second year students and pick their brains about what to expect next in the program.

We had a few days after the end of the conference to further decompress before classes started back up again with the next module. This module is short and sweet, only 6 weeks and 14 credits, unlike last module which was about 3 ½ months and 34.5 credits.