Some of you might be like me: sick of routine, starved for adventure, and craving a new beginning. That letter of acceptance into Elon’s PA program held more than just my future career. It was a harbinger of a new life completely alien to everything I had ever come to know and want up to that point. My roots were seeded strong in the suburbs of Chicago where I lived with my parents and brother for the past 24 years. I walked our family dog during brisk fall afternoons along the same street every day around the local park. That same park where I learned to ride my first bike, cut across on my way to class, or unwind with a long run to escape the stress of the week. Everything was all too familiar and my heart was longing for something more.
Elon was one of several universities I applied to, but the only one outside of the Midwest. I had never been to North Carolina and my very first time out here was during the interview. I was both excited and terrified. Would I fit in? Would I survive? What will happen if I move out here and fail out of PA school?
The transition came with a whirlwind of emotions. For those of you feeling similarly at present: teeter-tottering between the excitement of the unknown and the fear of leaving the familiar behind. I am here to tell you that this will be the best decision of your life. Dive-in wholeheartedly. There is nothing to fear and nothing to hold you back. It will be difficult in the beginning, as you adjust to the lifestyle of classes and exams, but I promise you, there will be weekends of fun and exploration. Whether it be to a local food joint, mountain hike, or even a day trip to the coast, you will meet some of the most inspiring and influential people you will ever come to know. They will mold and guide you into the person you were meant to be: as a clinician, community member, friend, and colleague. Take advantage of this fresh start. Trust me, you will not regret it!
To ease your mind as that first day of class approaches:
- Yes, PA school is challenging, but it will not challenge you any more than your undergraduate degree. In fact, my experience has been far less difficult and much less stressful than my undergraduate years. Dare I say, even more enjoyable too?!
- Faculty understand and are well aware of the workload. So, unlike your undergrad classes where everyone had a different schedule and list of things to do, the faculty can strategically schedule due dates and exams so that we all don’t go insane with multiple same-day projects and tests.
- The schedule is flexible and sometimes negotiable! I have lost count of the number of times faculty have accommodated us by moving classes around to our benefit of some extra sleep.
- Remember the program is on your side. Meaning, they will do their best so that you DO NOT fail out of PA school. Exams will not be as difficult as you expect. I remember thinking that first quiz would count as a “win” as long as I passed, yet I walked out with a hard-earned “A” (you can too!).
- I’ve got your back. Shoot me an e-mail if you ever need anything: firstname.lastname@example.org.