My cousin has been a PA for almost 10 years, and last Christmas she told me that school and life were going to be absolutely awful for a year, but then it would get better once rotations start. I do not know about the rotation part yet, but she sure was right about life being miserable part…didactic year is no joke. Rest assured, thousands of students that have come before me have also felt this way, but they have made it through and always say how it is worth it in the long run. (I really hope they are not lying to me!)

When going through the daily grind, it feels as if the days last forever, but January turned into October in the blink of an eye. I do not think I can adequately describe in words on how much information that I have forced into my head the last 10 months, but it is somewhat daunting to know how much I still have yet to learn. Do not get me wrong, this year has opened my eyes to the possibilities that lay in front of me, as well as the potential impact I can have on this world.

My biggest piece of advice is to not let PA school define you during the didactic year. Yes, you are a PA student and your life revolves around studying and sitting through lectures, but do not forget the person you were before it all started.  PA school is what you are doing, not who you are. It is easy to get caught up with all the assignments and exams of the week, but it is essential to take time to enjoy activities you normally do in order to give your mind a break from the torture you are putting it through. The stress relievers that saved me were the opportunities to play intramurals, as well as to attend collegiate athletic events around North Carolina; no matter how stressed or overwhelmed I felt, getting outside of the classroom always rejuvenated my brain to take on the next task.

Forgive me for this corny comparison, but PA school is like riding a roller coaster. Everybody starts at the same time just as if you are boarding the trains in the station. January is like the slow climb up the first gigantic hill; everyone is excited and anxious for what lies ahead. And then, once you get over that hump, your stomach feels it is in your throat and the world is rushing past you…the coursework and exams start to pick up to a whole new level once February starts. After the first drop, the rest of the ride has peaks and valleys, which represents the rest of the school year as you learn body systems and classes that you love and others you do not like as much. Every now and again, there will be a loop or a surprise corkscrew that will take your breath away, but the ride goes on just as PA school keeps marching on. As you pull into the station at the end of the coaster, the didactic year will only be able to be seen in the rearview mirror. As you exit the ride, instead of making you buy a commemorative picture, they give you a white coat to represent all that you have overcome during the crazy adventure. So if you are getting ready to board your own roller coaster, buckle in because it is going to be a bumpy ride!