What I Wish I’d Known Before Didactic Year

Tips from the Student Academy Board of Directors

You’ve been accepted and you’re about to start PA school. You’re nervous and excited all at the same time, and you’re definitely not sure what to expect next. Knowing that the uncertainty of starting PA school can be overwhelming, we asked AAPA’s Student Academy Board of Directors to share their tips for surviving the didactic year of PA school. They made it through – so can you!

Student Board October 2019Study tips, trick, and ideas

“Check your competitive self at the door. PA school is about collaboration – so is being a PA – so find classmates who have different strengths and study together.”
Katie Ganser, University of Colorado

“Your professors want you to succeed, relax and ask for help. ‘Seek help before you need help.’”
Will Kabrich, Wake Forest School of Medicine

“Limit your study resources. Find out what materials your professor uses for exams, and keep your studying to those materials. Also, the way you study may change – each unit may require different study strategies.”
Katie Lukovich, University of Detroit Mercy

“If you’re scoring above 80 – you’re already doing great. Getting all As or even Bs still results in graduating PA school.”
Annie Yang, University of Southern California

[6 Success Tips for PA School]

Finding school/life balance

“Scheduling time in your calendar for self-care is a game-changer.”
Cooper Couch, University of Southern California

“Have a support system – be it family, friends, or your significant other. Be confident you can reach out at any point during PA school. Also, find extracurricular activities that relate to the profession. Consider volunteering for student-run clinics or helping out with your regional, state, and national PA organizations.”
John Cuenca, University of Texas Medical Branch

“You’ll be learning for the rest of your life. Absorb what you can and learn the rest as you go. Have grace for yourself and prioritize mental health.”
Katie Ganser, University of Colorado

“Having an outlet for stress that doesn’t involve school is vitally important.”
Paula Miska, AAPA Graduate Advisor and director of interprofessional education and an associate professor at Lincoln Memorial University

“You cannot give to others if you aren’t giving to yourself – take time to do something for yourself every single day – it will keep you sane.”
Ashton Ogle, Sacred Heart University

“Find balance – there will always be more studying that can be done, but don’t miss out on all the life happening too – balance will make more effective studying.”
Jamie Shelstad, Bethel University – Tennessee 

“Remember to set aside time for family/friends. You’ll appreciate the break, and they’ll love the quality time.”
Lauren Trew, University of Washington MEDEX Northwest – Spokane

“Take time for the things you love still – you can’t care for patients if you’re not taking care of yourself.”
Annie Yang, University of Southern California

[PA Students: Engagement is Vital]

Enjoy the experience

“This will be the hardest yet most rewarding thing you have ever done in your life.”
Katie Lukovich, University of Detroit Mercy

“You are not an imposter…you earned you seat in your class and now it’s your – make the most of it.”
Ashton Ogle, Sacred Heart University

“Embrace every moment – all the ups and down are earned. You chose to be here so take it all in and love it all.”
Jamie Shelstad, Bethel University – Tennessee 

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