First of all, I feel like these last eight months have flown by! Where did all the time go, and more importantly, where am I going to store all of this lecture information? I cannot believe that in a few short months, clinical rotations will begin. This journey has been remarkable, and hopefully, I can give prospective students some insight into the life of a PA student.
My typical day begins very early—5:30 in the morning when the alarm goes off. I have chosen to stay outside of the Durham area with my family, so in order to beat traffic, I quietly sneak out of the house by 6:30. I usually arrive at school about 45 minutes before classes start, and this works for me because it gives me time to get settled, check emails, and prep for the lectures that day. I was fortunate to be elected Treasurer of the Stead Society, so I also use the mornings to keep up with the fund raising projects of our class. During the didactic year, typical days consist of lectures from eight to five, with small group activities sprinkled throughout. In the spring semester, Monday afternoons are reserved for Patient Assessment, where we get to practice our history taking and physical examination skills on people other than fellow classmates.
At the end of most lecture days, you can find me darting out the door in my attempt to beat traffic (again). Some people study at the PA building, but unfortunately, I have other kinds of homework to do when I walk in my front door—second grade math and kindergarten reading. My schoolwork usually takes a back seat to my five and seven year old, but that is a welcome change after eight hours of lecture! Having the break for family dinner and activities adds some sense of normalcy in our lives. Luckily my husband takes care of the bedtime ritual for the kids. Once they’re tucked away, my marathon study session can begin. Sometimes keeping up with assignments and unit feels like an uphill battle, but I’ve found that reinforcing the day’s lecture material by studying that same night is the most helpful. My night usually ends when I can no longer focus—between 11 and 12. I also make it a point to give my family my complete attention on Friday nights and most of Saturdays. I need the mental break, and my family appreciates the time.
As my classmates and I begin to get information about our clinical assignments for our second year, anyone around can sense the level of excitement in the room. It is not just excitement about where we will be assigned or what wonderful preceptors we will be working with. It is the fact that very soon, we will be the ones making a difference in the lives of our future patients. This is the reason I began this PA school journey in the first place.