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Hello, everyone! I'm currently a PA student, class of 2018 and I feel as if my head is going off on tangents constantly so I wanted some perspective from you guys.

 

Well first off, I'm an introvert and spent my gap year before entering PA school mainly staying at home and doing individual activities and loving it. I keep my friend circle small and sweet and they understand as well that I'm not a very big talker or texter. After entering school my schedule has been flipped and I am totally fine with it, I like learning and feel as if I'm getting into my mojo.

 

However the social aspect of school has been especially tough on me mentally. I have 2 friends I made that are my "group" but I'm constantly stuck in my head comparing and criticizing myself about my social skills with them and others. I want to grow socially as I spent most of my college years depending on myself and not needing other company. But in PA school and in careers it seems vital to have to network and make friends and that just seems physically and emotionally impossible for me. 

 

What I want to know from PA's and other PA students is, is it really necessary to make friends with others students or should I stop worrying about it (although that's easier said than done).

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Hi there! I understand where you are coming from because I was the same way during my didactic portion. I am a huge introvert and being around the same people all the time really sucks up my energy and I have to recharge by being by myself a lot after class or on the weekends. I think having your small group of friends is just fine. It is true that you need to have a small support system in your PA class because PA school is something like many other non-medical folks may understand. 

 

I also understand what you mean about the social aspect of school being tough. I too, felt like an outsider because I chose to skip a lot of social activities. I used to make up excuses all the time, but now I just say "No thanks, I think I'm spending the night in" or something along those line. I do think it's important to keep an open mind about social situations, as being in the medical field, you do have to be social a lot. If anything, PA school has taught me to be around of very difficult personalities and clinical rotations will help you with interacting with a wide variety of personalities. 

 

Lastly, not worrying about your introverted-ness is correct and also something I struggle with too. It's sometimes difficult to accept that "yeah! I'm a person in my mid/late 20's that loves staying in compared to many others!" but the sooner you accept that having just a small group of friends is just fine with you, the better it will be when it comes to comparison with your classmates. I think this will get better as time goes on during your didactic year. Nowadays, I'm almost finished with my rotations and I have only 1 best friend in the program and I think I'm doing just fine. 

 

Feel free to PM me if you wanna chat! 

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The way I see it is like this: accept yourself for who you are, and realize your talents and gifts are in other areas.

 

The American culture seems to highly value the extrovert, and it truly can be overwhelming and unfair to the introvert. In fact, I struggled with my introversion so much in the past that I used to waste a lot of energy pretending to be the life of the party (which everyone saw through, btw.) I am much happier today accepting that being introverted, a bit awkward, and a little shy is just who I am. I'm not less worthy or less successful. And some people will see that, and respect that. I don't always know what to say or how to respond, but I'm becoming okay with it. I thrive by connecting with people in small groups, or one-on-one...I have other gifts. Focus on your abilities, give yourself a challenge every once in awhile, and be gentler with yourself.

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Thinking ahead a bit to the future... Depending on what specialty you choose, you may need to see 20 or more new patients a day, and need to build rapport with each of them in turn in order to help them medically.  That sounds like it might be pretty demanding for you.  What did you do for pre-PA school HCE?

 

On the other hand, some of the best pastors I know speak publicly to hundreds of people each week: for them, the public speaking bit (and the meet-and-greet afterwards) is the hard part of the job, and the one-on-one interaction and personal study/prep time is the part of the job that recharges them.  So, you will want to find a job that gives you a social environment that you can thrive in.

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Omg, these were amazing, thank you! Exactly what I needed to see right now.  :D

 

I'm usually quite alright with my introversion as I said in college it never occurred to me that it was a problem. And in the years before that I was able to find people who understood me in one class or another. So it's never hit me as hard as it has now. With the same exact people in all of my classes/lunchtime/breaks/afterschool studying and for 4-5x a week, 8 or so hours a day, it's so draining.

 

Plus everyone is very nice or at least act like they are lol so I really begin to feel awful as I'm just not interested in striking up continuing conversations for very long. I just say my part and shut up as it gets monotonous after a while. 

 

I'm really happy to hear from others who have gone through the same situation. Thank you both so much for your advice and words, honestly!

 

@mcgp I might actually take you up on that offer, thank you for being so kind! 

 

 

 

 

I'm interested in EM or Surgery, any thoughts? For my pre-PA HCE I worked at a small Internal medicine clinic for a couple years, mainly phoning patients but I would occasionally be able to take vitals and a history.

 

I've never really been worried about interacting with patients though. The time is limited, there's usually a direction that the conversation has to flow, and I always figured I could learn more through experience.

 

Rather than patients, I'm more worried about interacting with colleagues and seniors. My introversion plus the fact that I don't drink alcohol, so no happy hours/let's go grab a drink after work, makes me worry whether I'll be able to build up a camaraderie w/ my coworkers and potential employers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fellow introvert, here...

I definitely relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed / annoyed with constant chatter, small-talk, and feeling like an outsider around most of my classmates in PA school.  I'm not sure how old you are (you say you just finished college?) but I found that I reached a point in my life a few years ago where I gradually stopped trying to be someone I wasn't.  I'm a home-body, and would rather play piano, read, or hike with a good friend than spend time in a group of people talking about random bits of pop culture.  No happy hour for me...alcohol just puts me to sleep!

The best way I found to "develop socially" was to be gentle with myself, and be ok with being on the outside looking in.  People will respect you for who you are as long as you just stay true. 

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Read Quiet by Susan Cain when you get a chance.

 

Introverts are a powerful group, and are often times the great movers and shakers in our human race. The first step is to embrace your introversion and don't try to be extroverted just because everyone else is. You also don't need to be an extrovert to be a provider, even a family practice provider. Some of the best PAs and Physicians I have met have been introverts, and they were able to keep their patients happy too. Good luck during PA school, and remember to embrace who you are and embrace your introversion, be proud of it!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not a PA student yet, but I'll say don't feel intimidated/need to change yourself because of those A++++ personalities you seen in PA school and later in the profession. Sure relationships like that are great for making work enjoyable for those who really need that human interaction, but if you are able to find that peace within yourself that others get from interacting with each other, I wouldn't worry about it. For me personally, say at work, if I'm in an environment where I don't feel like speaking and bonding to colleagues, i don't and keep to myself (i'll still talk a lot if I have questions and concerns) - but I still get the most shout-outs from patient satisfaction surveys. 

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