Check out this interview I did with a Pre-PA student! Hope you learn something and as always feel free to message me with comments/questions!
So, I always knew I wanted to do something in medicine. Honestly, I had no problem with being a pharmacist, a physician or even a dentist; but at the end of the day my decision was made when I spent multiple hours shadowing professionals in their respected field. Which I definitely recommend you all do! SHADOW, SHADOW, SHADOW!
The first career to be crossed off the list was dentistry. I really had, and still have a weird obsession with clean teeth. I feel like that’s the first thing people look at when you smile. I really wanted to give everyone a beautiful smile because it doesn’t just provide you with beauty but also confidence! Well, after shadowing a few dentists, I quickly came to realize that clean, white teeth was not something that you can provide people with who didn’t care to brush their teeth on a regular basis.
Next thing I tried was working as a pharmacy technician to observe different pharmacists. It’s funny just how much I hated being in the pharmacy and how BORING I thought a pharmacist was because I ended up marrying one, ha! I like fast pace and friendly environments, working in a pharmacy, was not for me!
So, finally why did I pick PA over an MD. I’m sure you’ve heard this multiple times, but the autonomy that comes with working as a PA is marvelous! We can work in any field we want, for as long as we want! You like peds? Then you can work in peds! Bored of that? Try the ED! Exhausted there? Go back to internal medicine or a family practice! It’s super nice being able to jump from field to field because that means you can apply to any specialty in medicine! That pretty much won me over, plus the perks of not having to be the person with all the responsibility at the end of the day was also nice.
Did you face any adversities or challenges during the process?
I feel like I faced a lot of challenges because of my religion, I actually have a blog where I have allowed my readers to follow my journey through PA school – one of the things I most struggled with was being a Muslim woman in the medical field. After you finish reading this post make sure to check out this post titled: The Sad Truth: A Piece From My Past
Do you have any study tips for PA students?
The best tip I have for PA students is to find a group of friends to study with! Everyone learns differently, and everyone picks up different information that they think is important – study with those people so the stuff that you didn’t think was important is taught to you from a different perspective! Trust me on this one! :D
How do you deal with stress?
Going through PA school is going to cause you a lot of stress! You definitely need to know your personality and what it is that allows you to turn off your brain and just relax. I felt like it was impossible to study for 8 hours straight, plus you probably won’t even retain much if you do that. I know a lot of my classmates enjoyed running, which is great and all...but that kinda seems like a chore to me. My favorite thing to do was take a 15-minute break and watch a comedy or a short clip of some TV show. I probably tried to force myself to take a break every 1-2 hours. The hardest thing for me was to tell myself that it’s okay to take a break. When I first started PA school, I felt extremely guilty taking breaks because I felt like I constantly needed to study or I wouldn’t make good grades. DON’T DO THAT! Your brain needs a couple minutes to wind down and relax so when you get back to studying you can really absorb what you are reading!
Most challenging class/rotation and why?
The most challenging class for me was Gross Anatomy. You think you took an anatomy course in undergrad? Yeah, well this is anatomy on steroids and a few energy drinks too! The amount of information in that class was crazy and it was super fast (that’s pretty much all of PA school but the rest of PA school is stuff you will be interested in learning). It was hard because I didn’t care for it and it was just a lot of super nit picky and specific blood vessels and nerves that I knew I would really never remember after this class.
The most challenging rotation for me was dermatology, although it was my favorite! It was a great rotation because I worked with great people, but differentiating between all those rashes was really hard in the beginning. Luckily I eventually got good at it... by like my last day! I don’t think a dermatology rotation is extremely important because at the end of the day if a rash is dry you are just going to find something to wet it and if it’s wet you are going to dry it. But it was extremely satisfying at the end to be able to confidently treat different skin conditions, even the ones that presented extremely similar!
What's a good resource that you've found helpful?
The best resource that I have for PA students is to purchase a PANCE review book early on in your program! This was the best thing I did for my studies; follow along as you learn and highlight the stuff that is high yield on the boards! I like to use PANCE Prep Pearls by Dwayne Williams (I heard the first edition is just as good as the second one so if you are trying to save money, just get the first edition – that’s the one I have).
Best experience in PA school?
The best experience I have had in PA school is probably going to be in about 7 days when I walk across that stage to receive my diploma! Haha so it’s really hard to say what has been the best experience, the whole process has been extremely challenging. It is going to be so hard, just don’t give up on yourself and remember that the more of a challenge you face, the better PA you will eventually be!
Advice for pre-PA students
My advice to Pre-PA students would be to first shadow a PA, make sure this is really what you want to do. Once you decide that this is in fact what you want to do as a career, be sure to prepare yourself for what’s to come! PA school is like hell on earth.. I’m not even kidding, I truly thought I wasn’t cut out for this program and was wondering if I would ever make it. Well, the reason I struggled so much was because I had no experience coming in. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would go back and work as a scribe for at least a year before starting PA school. The medical terminology that I had to look up during lectures and study time really put me behind. You will find yourself always a few steps behind the class if you don’t come in with a general/broad idea of medicine and a good medical terminology foundation!
I am so happy to be given this opportunity to offer some tricks and secrets to how I successfully got through one of the most exhausting and intense programs known to human kind… but really!