PA School Do’s and Don’ts. PA school is hard. No sugar coating… | by Jemari Roberts | Dec, 2021

Jemari Roberts

PA school is hard. No sugar coating that one. As a 2nd year PA student who is married with two kids, I’ve seen the gamut of challenges that PA school presents plus the added weight life piles on. Here are some quick tips that will apply to all students and especially those with small humans borrowing your study time.

DO make a plan and stick to it. This might sound easy enough but I don’t think many pre PA students appreciate the pace of this particular medical track. The tests are frequent and challenging and in my experience, there was no easing into the semester. It was hello, here’s the syllabus, exam in a few days. Having a plan makes all the difference because several factors can take away from your daily allotted time whether it’s commute time, family commitments, or mental health. My advice is to set up your weekly calendar each weekend and make sure you’ve got time for school, physical health, and mental health.

DON’T assume that your study tricks from undergrad will carry you through. PA school is dynamic and you will be flying through various organ systems. One week it’s cardiology and the next it could be dermatology. You may have a great system in place from your college years that aligns perfectly with the content but then a new unit begins and you feel lost. It’s no big deal, it happens to everyone at some point, but if it happens to you don’t hesitate to learn a new study routine.

DO behave like a professional. This may seem self-explanatory but there were several occasions where people I know got tripped up by the changing landscape. Yes, this degree you’re pursuing is a step up from your undergrad degree and you have an entirely new set of responsibilities before you. Soon you will have real human lives in your hands and it is expected that you take that privilege seriously. One thing I think students get caught up in is that you’re learning so much that your mental space is 99.9% occupied by medical knowledge learning. That doesn’t leave much for double checking if that email you wrote to a professor was as professional as it could be.

DON’T avoid asking for help. This one was big for me because I definitely felt overwhelmed at times. I’ll admit that there was some pride behind my not pursuing tutors and extra study sessions. I thought that I could handle it and I was smart enough to take it all on. I quickly learned that even the smartest person in the room needs help from time to time and asking for help is the mark of a highly intelligent person. Utilizing your skills and your resources is the best recipe for success. I would say that from day one you should be scoping out tutors, study groups, and information sessions to thrive.

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