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Got accepted to PA School. Need advice.

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Hello everyone, I posted on this site a while ago deciding whether or not it was worth to apply to PA school now or the next cycle. Many suggested to apply the next cycle due to my stats. Well, despite what was suggested I still applied as I had nothing to lose. I applied to 8 schools. I got rejected from 5 schools, waitlisted to 1 school, no response from 1 school, and got accepted to SUNY Downstate Medical Center, my top choice. 


I don't have much time left until the program starts. Classes start May 31st and the program lasts for 27 months.


I want to review as much Anatomy as I can as Gross Anatomy is one of their courses in the summer.


Does anyone here have any books you suggest is worth reading? I know some people are going to say not to study and enjoy the last 2 months I have left, but I already decided I'd rather study. Thanks.


Also, I need to fix my study habits now. I'm preparing for the worst so I want to learn what other methods are people using to take notes in PA school. I have heard of Microsoft OneNote and another app called Notability. PLEASE explain in detail :]. I have an Ipad so maybe I can utitlize it for school as well instead of investing on a laptop only devoted to schoolwork.


ANY other advice in regards to preparing to PA school that you found helpful is also appreciated.


And lastly, for people just wanting to know my stats:

Major- Biology [b.S.]

Cumulative GPA- 3.909

Science GPA- 3.940

HCE prior to interview- 484 hours as an ED Scribe

No GRE was needed for this school

Organic Chemistry was also not required for this school but I did take Biochemistry. I did not take Organic Chemistry, however.




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Whoa, you're kind of a pessimist - shaving almost a month off your time left and saying you need to "fix" your study habits.  Dude, most people would eat every single one of their applications for grades like yours.  I love the three decimal places btw, very nice.  LOL


The advice most commonly given - and for what it's worth, I think it's sound - is to not study anything, because honestly it's kind of a waste of time and stress.  They are going to teach (and test) you in their own way - and that would be very difficult to pick up out of a textbook. I'd be tempted to say maybe look at some Med Terminology but you were a scribe so you're good there.


Unless you know someone in the class ahead of you that can pass you some powerpoints or something so you can get a feel for the whole thing.  Don't go crazy in any case.  It's unnecessary and adds stress.


Or if you ABSOLUTELY MUST STUDY SOMETHING OMG, I might recommend Clin Path or Cardiology Made Ridiculously Simple.  These are well written and easy to read books, and even though you don't have the background to really understand it yet, you'll pick up a few tidbits here and there and it will make you feel better.  I used the Cards book extensively studying for PANCE.


Are you moving?  Need to get settled and find out where everything is?  Caught up on dental work? Prescriptions and eye exams all up to date?  Car functioning well and has good tires?  See where I'm going with this?


I say this all the time - almost 100% of the battle is eliminating distractions.  It's a lot of work, but it's doable.  You just have to sit there and do it and apply a little mental toughness (because you will make mistakes like forgetting about a test or something). 


Anyway, as far as specifics, what worked for you in undergrad?  How do you learn best?  VIsual or listening or reading?  Maybe start there.  


Many people printed the PPts 3 or 6 slides to a page and wrote on them (your school probably provides a printing allowance).  Or downloaded them and used the "presenter comment" areas or other notation areas.  I think One Note is free?  We had a couple people using that.  For stuff like Pharm where you are memorizing many small bits of random crap you will need to make yourself a chart with colors in Excel or similar.  Or maybe like a tree looking thing.  Whatever you find easiest.   


Watch what your classmates do and if you see someone making a cool chart, try that unless it's too slow.  Stay flexible.  Read til you die!  


I think you are in good shape.  Relax and go like hell. Good luck!

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Our school provides laptops with MS office, so I use Onenote since it's there and free. I print my ppt slides to it and can then highlight, write on screen, what have you. I'm a visual learner, and one thing I like is popping out on to the internet and copying a picture to import right next to the description of something (like eczema, for example).


I can also rearrange the presentations how I like. I keep presentations together by unit, but will also organize courses together. So, I'll have a master notebook of every lecture in a unit, then I'll have duplicates of all, say pharm, together for test time.


We only have a handful of lectures a week, though. I'm not sure how my organization would hold up if it was a daily lecture program.


One thing I do that helps for pharm: I sit in one of the study rooms with a big white board and transcribe the highlights for a lecture onto the board. Each class id grouped together with highlights and is subdivided by medswith only 1 line of highlights each. I can find commonalities easier that way. Plus, the highlights of a 70 page ppt can be narrowed down to one board.


Quizlet. I make flash cards for most lectures that cover the objectives. When it gets close to test time, it's a great way to check competence level and not worry about non testable fluff.


Anatomy is not that bad. Pathophys is much tougher, IMO. For goss anatomy, I like Netters, but rarely touch it now. Clinical pathophys made ridiculously simple, as mentioned above, is a good overview text.

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I'll tell you about what my study process is like and it seems to be working well for me so far.


I download all power points and organize them into OneNote. This helps me to keep everything together for each class since some will have little handouts or chart tables that will help separately from the power points. Then I access them through power point on my ipad mini where I draw and highlight the slides while taking old school handwritten notes. With some lectures it is helpful to record them if they test more on what comes out of their mouth than what is on the slides. 


While I study I make hand written flash cards for the information and/or charts that group disease states together and focus on what stands out about each topic. Once I make the flash cards it seems like I go through them once or twice recalling the information from memory and if I get it wrong I rewrite the correct answer out as many times as it takes. I know a lot of people in my class use Quizlet which is great but I know I don't learn by typing information or copy and pasting info from the power points onto a quizlet. It is the actual writing which helps me learn.


I know many people take notes on their laptop which must work for them, but it is important to understand how you study and learn and don't be paranoid if you are doing it differently than everyone else. Personally I know I learn best by writing things out with a pencil and paper, forced recall of information from the flash cards, flow charts I make on a white board, drawing pictures for anatomy and listening to the lectures over again since I often associate certain things with the distinct voices of the professor (weird but it works). The way I study does take a lot of time, but I would rather take a lot of time and do well than use a technique that I don't learn well with. 


The topics we are learning really aren't difficult, the hard part is just the amount of information presented and tested on every week. Keep on top of the new information and be able to differentiate things by what is different and buzz words will be useful. You should be studying basically every night. I decided my one night off of studying is sometimes Thursdays since those are our longest days in class. Eliminate all distractions and understand that you may miss out on some things while you are in this program.


Most importantly, be able to adapt your study habits. If you get a less than desirable score be able to evaluate why that happened. If it is on a consistent basis maybe ask your professor for good ways to study for their class and be able to change your methods which may require some trial and error. The way you studied in undergrad may work perfectly, or it may not and you will have to figure that out. Based on your undergrad GPA you clearly understood how to study and do well so I'm sure you'll do great!!


Also, I didn't study a single bit before starting my program and I had been out of undergrad for a full year before starting. It wouldn't have made a difference if I had studied before starting but if it calms your nerves about starting or something have at it.

Hopefully this helps!

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Or if you ABSOLUTELY MUST STUDY SOMETHING OMG, I might recommend Clin Path or Cardiology Made Ridiculously Simple.  These are well written and easy to read books, and even though you don't have the background to really understand it yet, you'll pick up a few tidbits here and there and it will make you feel better.  I used the Cards book extensively studying for PANCE.


I looooove these books.  I recommend the anatomy, physiology and clinical pathophysiology ones to everyone.  They are excellent adjuncts to the power points and textbook.  Great mnemonics and succinct reviews of some very heavy topics.


I also have the cards one but have yet to read more than the first few chapters of it.


I thought I should mention a physician friend of mine is the one who initially recommended them to me.  She used them to review for the USMLEs.

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Congratulations on your acceptance!


If you are absolutely determined to start studying early then I wont try and talk you out of it. 


rather than suggesting books to read, you could check out some of the tutorial sites. I dont think it really matters what you watch, as at this stage it will be more about getting familiar with the sources and figuring out which ones resonate with you better. Some of my favourites have been


Khan Academy Medicine (A good range of topics, some aimed at med students and some at nursing students)

CRASH! Medical review (Aimed at med students so it goes into more detail than needed but useful for extra info)

CME4Life (all sorts of videos on here from board review packed full of mnemonics, case studies and some are related to life as a PA)

Strong Medicine (aimed at med students so some of the information is more detailed than needed but it is good stuff to know)


These were the ones I used most often, there were others as I would google for tutorials when I needed some help understanding a topic. 


Personally I dont think you will get much from doing real studying at this stage, but it cant hurt to get familiar with some of the online sources that are out there. 

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I forgot about flash cards, either quizlet or manual index cards.  I'm a fan of them in general.  I recently read something in big bold letters that said "if you're not forcing yourself to recall information, you're not studying".  


I agree with this pretty much, but I also like the maxim:  "Writing = remembering".  

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