Alright, I have started and deleted this blog too many times to count. There was a reason I went into medicine and not literature, so here it goes, apologies in advanced. You know how everyone warns you that PA school is hard? Well if you are like me, you didn’t believe them. I thought, well I played a demanding sport in college and majored in Biology and I still got A’s and B’s. Surely this should be about the same, right? Wrong! I can honestly say that I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into this past year. The best advice I can tell you is “get your affairs in order.” While yes you are not dying currently, you are basically going into hibernation for the next year. Friends, family, and fun become a distant, fond memory. The Francis center becomes your home and the people who sit next to you for 8 hours, five day a week know more about your life and your Internet history than you’d like to admit. I remember at the end of January, just one month into school, wondering what other career options I had at this point in my life. I thought there is no way I can survive this level of stress for another 11 months. After nearly every exam during the first month I calculated how much of my tuition I could get back if I dropped out now…. Or now…. But I made it (through the didactic year at least) and my tuition is gone forever!
This last year has been very stressful and challenging, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have met new friends and have had to push myself more than ever before. During Clin Med as we raced through squiggly EKGs in just two weeks I thought there is no way that I will ever be able to successfully diagnose anyone; however, now when I hear a cough it is no longer just a cough. HPI (history of present illness) questions fly through my head. A sniffle is no longer a sniffle it is a long list of symptoms that can be associated with an equally long list of diagnoses. You will never be able to watch tv the same again either. Just a year ago I would tune out drug commercials. They were a waste of a minute of my life and seemed to just be a long list of side effects. Now when a drug commercial comes on I race to identify the drug, and what class it is in, and what side effects are associated with it. And when you successfully answer the previous questions a sense of pride rushes across you and you once again realize it is all worth it.
School is very scary at first. But do not let it phase you. I am so thankful that I chose Elon to receive my masters from. The faculty and staff are the equivalent of a Scooby-doo night light in the darkness that is PA school. They genuinely want to see you succeed. They will work with you and help you in anyway that they can, including dragging you through PA school if necessary. Your classmates are going to all become your friends, so don’t make it a competitive environment. We are all here to learn. Lean on your classmates. Everyone comes from different experiences and backgrounds. Some people will be good at certain subjects, some good at all. But you will find your niche and what subject you excel at. My favorite part of guest lectures was when the MD’s came in and would start by saying, “Well in med school we spent a whole semester on this topic but we are going to cover it in one hour.” The sad truth of this statement just forced you to laugh. Just remember as bad as it seems it can always be worse. You could ask your female patient during an SP (standardized patient) exam if she has had a prostate exam recently.