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Hey everybody, I'm in a bad spot and I honestly don't know what to do.  I am a PA student attending a 24-month program in the Northeast.  I am at the end of my first semester of my didactic year and I know I'm already going on academic probation (GPA <3.0).  It's not for lack of effort, when I started the program last year I had a family member come close to death and took an LOA instead of failing/probation/retaking courses.  I don't regret that decision but while on my LOA  I developed some severe health problems and 3 week before school started I had a major surgery that led to several complications.  As a result of constantly being sick and trying to resolve the issues, my grades have suffered terribly.  As it stands I will probably be passing all of my classes except Anatomy (this is a dissection lab and the PA students have their own cadavers as we are not attached to a medical school).  I have struggled in this class and If i don't pass it (get a C-) I will be allowed to retake the course next fall (we don't have any other way/time to make up the classes as we use cohort training,and it will extend my time yet another 5 months.  I honestly don't know if it's even worth it.  I'll be spending 5 months, thousands of dollars in extra tuition, creating a terrible situation with my lease, and it just seems to add so many variables.  I served as an Army medic, that's how I came to love the idea of becoming a PA after working with some of the best in the world (From every branch of service!).  Please, anybody just chime in.  As much as I'd be disappointed to leave the program I know there are opportunities in accelerated BSN/NP programs or even doing a cheap RN at my local community college.  I'm 28 and thank goodness I don't have a family to support but I just don't know what to do.  

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I am a grad of the Army PA program (back when it was just an Army program.) I remember being so tired of the pace and the hours and the drain on me and my family I gave quitting some passing thought. It just didn't seem worth it some days. A friend of mine reminded me of the old saying "fatigue makes cowards of us all."

I soldiered on and now almost 30 years later this profession has provided well for me, my wife, our kids, and now our grandkids. Had I quit I do not believe I would have enjoyed the quality of life I have had. 

Think about what you need to prop you up and get you through. take time for yourself. When I was in one of the many military program that was designed to stress you to the max and give you more to do than you could possibly accomplish I would take 10 minutes before lights out and lay in my bunk and read a comic book. Everyone else thought I was nuts but that 10 minutes got me through the day... and then the next day... and then the next.

Power through. You'll be glad you did.

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Sir (Sas5814), 

First and foremost (and yeah I know we all get tired of hearing this but it's worth saying) Thank you for your Service.  The IPAP is regarded as two things: one of the premiere PA programs in the country and by far one of the most challenging as it combines all of the difficulties of PA school with all of the extra demands of soldiering.  My biggest issue is that unlike the military, the tuition/costs/uncertainty is challenging.   I know from my friends that got through IPAP and on the bright side, even upon dismissal a soldier is still a soldier, if I get booted out then it's back the drawing board career-wise.  That having been said, I certainly take your advice with strong consideration and I am grateful for the feedback.  As always, Hooah!

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There were indeed some advantages which you alluded to. I didn't have tuition to pay back (beyond selling my soul for a 6 year obligation). I had a place to live, health, dental, and a paycheck (albeit a miserly one) for me and my family. I had one worry.... graduate.

You have all the other concerns piled on top of the personal problems you have outlined. I wasn't being glib when I said power through. I was giving broad advice because I'm not in your shoes. I don't know what helps you get up in the morning or what keeps you awake at night. So I can't really give you specific advice beyond care for yourself as best you can in as many ways as you can and use whatever support you have. None of us do it alone. Why my wife didn't divorce or kill me while I was in school remains a mystery today.

Allow me to play devil's advocate. If you drop out...what is next? I am a list maker and, if I were you, I'd start with a list of reasons to stay and reasons to go. I'd make another list about what would happen next if you drop out. Is there another path you could be on more suited to your circumstances? What is the pro and con of any alternative path? Make the list exhaustive and inclusive. Then put it away for a day or 3. Review it and amend it and put it away. Read it again. At some point you will either lean towards a choice or it will be an "aha!" moment.

Choosing another plan, if that is ultimately what you do, isn't failure. It is choice. You haven't failed until you stop trying.

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Thanks a lot Dr. Stegall, I didn't think you were being glib at all and I sincerely apologize if it came off as such.  I didn't do anywhere close to six years let alone as a PA.  One of my buddies got out of IPAP and his orders were right to jump to school and off to Bragg.  The Army squeezes their PAs like a lemon get squeezed down to the pulp.  Making a pro/con list is a terrific idea.  Thanks again for the insight, it really means the world.  

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Dude, you've had some serious challenges and setbacks, but probation is not the end of the world and you're not out of the fight yet. Can you work your ass off from now until whenever and pass anatomy (C = degree!) and then go on to clinicals, rock them and graduate on time? Anatomy is important, but honestly it was underwhelming at my school and unless you go directly into surgery, can usually get by and learn what you need as you go and review what's important. If you can Soldier on, that's the answer. And you already know this. I'm not interested in giving you an excuse to quit, although I understand your frustration.

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