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PA Student AMA


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Hi all, thought I would give back to try and answer as many questions that you as pre-pas have. The AMA (ask me anything) is always popular in reddit so I thought I'd give it a go. Feel free to ask anything about school, rotations, pre-pa stuff etc. 

Info: 2nd year PA student somewhere in the midwest. Rotations completed: FM (3) IM (1) Ortho, OBGYN, Peds, gen surg. HCE: various, CNA/EMT-B mostly

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5 hours ago, ChristineQLe said:

What do you think set you apart in your interview (s)?

I think my diverse HCE and being able to talk about it. I was also able to articulate why I wanted to be a PA vs MD vs NP using my experiences while not putting down other professions. At a different interview, we were given an info session with current students before the faculty interview and during that session they mentioned things about the program that wasn't on their website. I then used that info during my interview question of "why this school" and they really liked that answer (at least I think they did because they started writing a bunch and nodding their head). That shows i was paying attention and able to integrate that information for my benefit.

Basically you want to be able to thoroughly articulate why do you want to go to a particular school, what is a PA, why do you want to be a PA vs other profession and use personal experiences as much as you can.

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11 minutes ago, PA8394 said:

For the question of "why do you want to be a PA" are adcom looking for generic reasons such as working under a SP, lateral mobility etc, or what you wrote in your personal statement or a different story? 

I think adcoms would prefer "real' answers rather than generic stuff. That being said, your reasons may be "generic" in nature, which is fine. For instance, you may have shadowed a PA in X field and really liked what they did and you want to be able to do that while still maintaining the possibility of lateral mobility in the future. I mentioned lateral mobility during my interviews and what that means for me. I think it would be fine to touch on what you wrote on your personal statement but you don't have to. They have already read your statement so it might be better to talk about new or different things rather than repeat what you wrote. Make sure to tie in your personal experiences with PAs through shadowing, HCE, volunteering, etc. 

Things to not say: "I wanted to be a doctor but I think PA is a good 2nd option" 

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My last semester of undergrad I took 19 credits so I was forced to be productive and manage my time well (things I hadn't done very well in the past). It worked out and I had my highest GPA that semester. My study habits were decent in undergrad but I had to make major adjustments in PA school. In PA school I would take down notes in a note book and use those notes when going over pwr point lectures before tests. In PA school they tell you to read ahead and don't go from studying all the material for one test and neglecting the other stuff but that is pretty much what most of us did lol. Say you have an anatomy test friday, you won't be reviewing physiology wednesday or thursday night just because there is so much to cover. My study method included having all the pwr point lectures for the exam open as well as my notebook. I would review each lecture and go over main points to study. Basically, you have to figure out which way you study best- writing notes, taking notes on laptop, relistening to lectures, using IPAD etc. Some of the skills you have from undergrad will carry over. It's important you take a break every now and then and go work out or make dinner otherwise you will burn out quicker and the information won't stick as well. Make sure you study in a quiet environment. In undergrad I always went to the library to study, PA school was no different. I found that when I would go home and try to study, I would become distracted with netflix or something else. 

Clinical year is a little different. Much more chill in that I don't study as much as i did in didactic. I think most schools have end of rotation exams after core rotations like FM/IM/ER etc. I do most of my studying for these tests but it still isn't as much studying as I did during first year. Some preceptors will assign you topics to study and pimp you on the next day so those rotations kept me busier. 

 

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Guest HanSolo
3 hours ago, OneDayPA-C said:

How were your study habits before PA school and during PA school (didactic year and clinical year).

I start in May and I'm trying figure out how I'm gonna go from studying when I need too (undergrad) to studying ALL the time (PA school) 

Any advice would be appreciated! 

I wanted to chime in here. Don’t feel like you have to study “ALL” the time. Yes, there’s lots of material, but it’s all about being efficient with your time. I see a lot of people “studying” but they’re just on Facebook or in group settings half the time they’re talking about something unrelated. When I’m studying, I’m studying. I still have a fair amount of free time to do other stuff. You’ll find your rhythm after the first round of exams. 

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15 minutes ago, HanSolo said:

I wanted to chime in here. Don’t feel like you have to study “ALL” the time. Yes, there’s lots of material, but it’s all about being efficient with your time. I see a lot of people “studying” but they’re just on Facebook or in group settings half the time they’re talking about something unrelated. When I’m studying, I’m studying. I still have a fair amount of free time to do other stuff. You’ll find your rhythm after the first round of exams. 

Yup, totally agree. I took every friday night off to hang with my SO or just go to a movie or watch netflix. Balance is key.

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4 hours ago, PAgirl20 said:

What has been your favorite rotation and why?

I enjoyed ortho surgery and general surgery the best thus far. I haven't had ER yet but I think i will like that as well. The reason is that I got to assist with total joint replacements like hips/knees and do a lot of suturing. In Gen surg I got to run the cameras during appendectomies and gallbladder surery which was awesome. I didn't have surgical experience prior to PA school so this was all new and amazing to me. 

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14 minutes ago, PA8394 said:

My chief scribe is writing a LOR for me in this upcoming cycle and she is asking me for a "basic outline." I'm not sure what to tell her, what does that mean?

Honestly, I'm not sure. Your best bet would be to ask her to clarify what she means so you don't give her some random info lol. Perhaps she means an outline of things you would like her to address like: ability to work well with others, handles stress well, fundamental knowledge of medicine etc. Or she could mean a basic outline of things you've done HCE wise so she can tie those things into the LOR. This is all speculation, just ask your person to clarify what they mean and the confusion will disappear :)

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27 minutes ago, PA8394 said:

Another question, sorry for the question overload lol! If schools require three recommendations but you have five people writing you LORs, do they only look at the three specific LORs or all 5 of them?

Usually schools require certain LORs from ppl like a PA, a professor etc so i would make sure you match their requirements. Second, sometimes there is only 3 slots for letters so you are unable to provide 5. In the event you can provide more, I would, just because it doesn't hurt. Make sure you pay attention to the wording because if they ONLY want 3 and you give them 5, they will most likely not read all 5 and that can irk them if you can't follow directions. 

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Did you feel underprepared for rotations? I attend a great school- good reputation, high PANCE rates. Starting rotations later this year. I just feel like I wont know what to do at my first rotation. Yes, I can write an H&P in my sleep, but when it comes to diagnosing and creating assessment and plan for a real person, i dont feel confident. Is that what you experienced? I only had prior experience as a CNA, and i feel like some friends who worked as MAs feel more comfortable going into rotations. 

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15 hours ago, PAs12017 said:

Did you feel underprepared for rotations? I attend a great school- good reputation, high PANCE rates. Starting rotations later this year. I just feel like I wont know what to do at my first rotation. Yes, I can write an H&P in my sleep, but when it comes to diagnosing and creating assessment and plan for a real person, i dont feel confident. Is that what you experienced? I only had prior experience as a CNA, and i feel like some friends who worked as MAs feel more comfortable going into rotations. 

I think feeling under-prepared and overwhelmed is extremely common for the first couple rotations. This is certainly how I felt and other classmates as well. Your ability to make a Dx, form differentials, and plans will come as you progress through rotations. I didn't even know which meds were first line for X dz but now i can tell you causative organisms, first line therapy with proper dosage. As you see more and more patients with common/uncommon dz, you retain the information much better. Uptodate will be your best friend to look stuff up as well as epocrates for dosing info. As a student, no one expects you to know everything right off the bat, however, you are expected to be able to find an answer (dose, diff). I still don't know best course of tx and plan for certain things (or i forget) but the whole point of rotations is to learn and that comes from seeing patients. 

TLDR: this is a normal feeling for all students, you will become more comfortable with more rotations, if you made it past didactic, you will do fine in clinical year.

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2 hours ago, PA-SGuy said:

I think feeling under-prepared and overwhelmed is extremely common for the first couple rotations. This is certainly how I felt and other classmates as well. Your ability to make a Dx, form differentials, and plans will come as you progress through rotations. I didn't even know which meds were first line for X dz but now i can tell you causative organisms, first line therapy with proper dosage. As you see more and more patients with common/uncommon dz, you retain the information much better. Uptodate will be your best friend to look stuff up as well as epocrates for dosing info. As a student, no one expects you to know everything right off the bat, however, you are expected to be able to find an answer (dose, diff). I still don't know best course of tx and plan for certain things (or i forget) but the whole point of rotations is to learn and that comes from seeing patients. 

TLDR: this is a normal feeling for all students, you will become more comfortable with more rotations, if you made it past didactic, you will do fine in clinical year.

this makes me feel much better, thanks!!!

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