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I was fortunate to get accepted to pa school my first time applying and will be starting this fall. How can I prepare myself for school? It’s been a couple years since I have been in school and since taking classes such as A&P. I feel like I do not remember a thing and I am kinda freaking out. I know I need to enjoy myself before school starts but I have lots of free time and would benefit from reviewing things. Any suggestions? Podcasts? Books? Journals? Videos?


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I start in May, and havent done anything but I do plan on studying anatomy this week until I start.  I have the Barron's anatomy cards and the plan is just to look at about 5-10 cards each night.

I will say though from speaking with 1st year students they said not to worry about studying and just enjoy the time you have with friends and family.

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No need to prepare. It’ll likely be futile. You have no way of predicting what depth you’ll need to study at this point. You said it right in your post, enjoy the time off! 

That’s seriously the best advice anyone can give you. Only thing I would do is make sure you have an idea of how you plan to study set up and ready to go and are familiar with it. By this I mean don’t show up with you fancy iPad Pro w/ Apple Pencil day 1 and not have a clue how to use it (happened in my program lol). Pick a note taking app (I love OneNote), familiarize yourself with it and be ready to go when the time comes. Do some pleasure reading and get ready! 

Don’t worry you don’t remember anything. They will assume you know nothing and teach you everything. 

As far as books and stuff, whatever your program recommends is probably best. Find a good review book you like for exams, but don’t use as your primary studying source as they’re all superficial. EM Basic and EM Crit are awesome podcasts with EM focuses but still relevant to common topics. Khan Academy has great videos for physiology. As far as journals go, whatever you enjoy. Your program will probably give you an AAPA membership and you’ll get their journal with it, it’s pretty good. 

Hope this helps, enjoy the down time and best of luck. 

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Relax! You will learn everything you need to learn in the program. Agree with above. Get a ipad pro with a pencil and make sure to have notability. Early on my class was split between notability and one note. Now the entire class uses notability. Its so much simpler to use and navigate. And because most people will use it, you can airdrop that stuff super easy. 

Again, relax! If you want to do something, and you arent familiar with it, take a ekg course. Its a tough concept and its taking me more time than i expected since it is the forst time ive ever looked at them. 

Spend time with family and loved ones. You wont see them as often. Make sure you have a strong support system built up. Otherwise itll get hard emotionally and mentally if you cant vent properly.  Good luck. 

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Hi first of all CONGRATULATIONS, this is a huge accomplishment . 

I'm Melissa Gutierrez Perez MPAS-PA-C. Just became a licensed PA this last month , and finished PA school December 2017. 

It is so normal to be nervous. 

I actually have a blog and talked today about preparing for the first year of PA school today.

First and foremost the 1st semester is the hardest because you are going to be trying to figure out what works best for you. 

My first tip is get a planner and stay organized .  Divide your time in between classes wisely, figure out what books you like to use the most ( mine were PANCE PREP PEARLS, step up to medicine, toronto notes. I loved epocrates for pharmacology, I also loved the uptodate application and medscape. 

Second I would advise make sure you stay healthy- eat right , sleep right, have some time for exercise. 

Third I would like to think that PA school gets a little easier when you have a good study group ( thats my personal opinion) helps to have a group to divide notes with etc. 

4th always stay on top of it- try to read before the next day so you don't go into class so lost, make notes, study cards, listen to videos ( i loved paul bolin, medgeeks ( AKA PA boards ), ROSH review)

5th it will be hard, probably one of the toughest things you will experience but enjoy the ride , if you are truly passionate about this believe me it will be the best time of your life, the hardest but also so rewarding. 

follow my blog for more tips or email me we can talk. 


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  • 2 years later...
On 3/5/2018 at 2:55 PM, mhgutierrez02 said:

Divide your time in between classes wisely, figure out what books you like to use the most ( mine were PANCE PREP PEARLS, step up to medicine, toronto notes. I loved epocrates for pharmacology, I also loved the uptodate application and medscape. 


Dear Melissa,

This is such great advice! I am a pre-PA and am hopeful to have an acceptance letter for 2021 soon. As a student who struggles with the time it takes me to read and comprehend information, I am looking for advice on specific study skills or tips that worked best for you? I will look up the above resources for sure. How did you memorize difficult things like remembering all the specific symptoms of conditions that sound alike ... ex: hypocalcemia vs hypokalemia vs hyper...hypo.... etc etc?  Any tips?  I will read your blog!


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