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Undergrad Knowledge/Self-Doubt (?): Pre-PA


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Hello!

I'm currently in my undergrad program taking my prerequisites for PA school. I plan on graduating in the Spring of 2023 and applying for PA school that same year.

As I begin my PA school research, I keep having self-doubts on my ability to learn the content in PA school, which questions my ability to "make it" as a PA.

While I am doing well in my undergrad/prerequisite courses, I fear I am not genuinely learning the information - just merely memorizing and doing well on exams. My question is: Will I/How badly will I struggle in PA school if I don't remember/didn't efficiently learn the coursework from prerequisites like Biology/A&P/Chemistry?

I do not fear applying for PA school/getting accepted (aware that it may not happen the first time I apply), but my current GPA is 3.8 and I've been working full-time as a medical assistant for 3 years (plenty of PCE, HCE & shadowing). However, I fear getting into PA school and having the feeling of "what did I get myself into". I've had PAs that I work for all tell me that I can do it, but I keep having this lingering self-doubt that my ADHD brain and I will not be able to grasps concepts like others will due to my lack of deep understanding during prerequisites (and just having recently been diagnosed with ADHD & still learning what medication works best for me).

Is this feeling normal?

Thank you to whoever can give me some honest insight!

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Yes this is normal. Nearly everyone feels that way and the feeling will continue throughout PA school once you get accepted. It is called the impostor phenomenon. Once you recognize what it is and have a better understanding, it will get better, although it probably never truly goes away. Based on what you said, you are probably underselling yourself and you probably understand those courses more than you believe. It is a common occurrence in people who are overachievers and people who are actually experts in their field. I encourage to look into it. Don't worry, you'll be fine.

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For me, A&P was the most important to have an excellent grasp of. Sure you’ll use knowledge from other courses as well, but just being familiar with concepts and topics will help you in PA classes, even if you don’t remember specifics from undergrad. I don’t know anyone who felt solid in all their undergrad studies in my cohort, but we all worked hard and did fine.

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2 hours ago, Janie55 said:

For me, A&P was the most important to have an excellent grasp of. Sure you’ll use knowledge from other courses as well, but just being familiar with concepts and topics will help you in PA classes, even if you don’t remember specifics from undergrad. I don’t know anyone who felt solid in all their undergrad studies in my cohort, but we all worked hard and did fine.

Thank you for this! That’s exactly how I was feeling. Out of all the prerequisites A&P is the one I definitely have the most genuine understanding of the topics. However, I feel like the finite details of the topics are what I’m just sort of memorizing for the sake of exams, I worry that might hold me back compared to others. Now chemistry is a completely different story..... (lol) but A&P I feel confident in the general topics/basics.

For example, I’m currently learning the cardiac system in A&P 2. Anatomy of the heart I got, details of the EKG I got, basics of the wigger’s diagram I got, but then our professor relates it back to neurophysiology unit from last semester and I blank on which ions are moving in and out of the cell.... 

Sorry... I’m rambling & I feel like I’m over thinking things and letting my anxiety/imposter syndrome take over as I’m studying for an exam/doing PA school research! Lol! 

Thank you for your reply, I appreciate it a lot!! :)

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7 hours ago, TheFatMan said:

Yes this is normal. Nearly everyone feels that way and the feeling will continue throughout PA school once you get accepted. It is called the impostor phenomenon. Once you recognize what it is and have a better understanding, it will get better, although it probably never truly goes away. Based on what you said, you are probably underselling yourself and you probably understand those courses more than you believe. It is a common occurrence in people who are overachievers and people who are actually experts in their field. I encourage to look into it. Don't worry, you'll be fine.

Oh wow, thank you so much! I've heard of imposter syndrome before (and relate VERY hard since I was young). I think it's crazy (in a good way) that just from me posting what I posted, you suggested imposter phenomenon. I googled it and there are so many articles relating it to the PA profession - I'm shocked but after reading up on it I completely get it. I've always been told I'm "underselling myself", so hearing it from a stranger really solidified it (I have a tendency to believe those around me are just saying it to make me feel better).

I will definitely continue to look further into this and work on gaining more self-confidence when it comes to my studies. Definitely a huge goal of mine before starting PA school.

You really helped a lot, thank you, much appreciated!

P.S: I like the quote!

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On 3/24/2021 at 12:06 PM, KH21444 said:

Hello!

I'm currently in my undergrad program taking my prerequisites for PA school. I plan on graduating in the Spring of 2023 and applying for PA school that same year.

As I begin my PA school research, I keep having self-doubts on my ability to learn the content in PA school, which questions my ability to "make it" as a PA.

While I am doing well in my undergrad/prerequisite courses, I fear I am not genuinely learning the information - just merely memorizing and doing well on exams. My question is: Will I/How badly will I struggle in PA school if I don't remember/didn't efficiently learn the coursework from prerequisites like Biology/A&P/Chemistry?

I do not fear applying for PA school/getting accepted (aware that it may not happen the first time I apply), but my current GPA is 3.8 and I've been working full-time as a medical assistant for 3 years (plenty of PCE, HCE & shadowing). However, I fear getting into PA school and having the feeling of "what did I get myself into". I've had PAs that I work for all tell me that I can do it, but I keep having this lingering self-doubt that my ADHD brain and I will not be able to grasps concepts like others will due to my lack of deep understanding during prerequisites (and just having recently been diagnosed with ADHD & still learning what medication works best for me).

Is this feeling normal?

Thank you to whoever can give me some honest insight!

I perfectly understand your situation. Here’s some advice: it’s more important to understand the basics of your coursework instead of memorizing everything about it.

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Most if not all PA schools will review/teach the relevant A&P & pathophysiology as they go through particular body systems/branches of medicine.  Frankly, much of the detail that was stressed in undergrad isn't relevant in PA school, not relevant at all to passing PANCE, and not relevant to actual practice.

From what I remember of PA school:

  • A&P: relevant, but needed level of detail was taught
  • Pathophysiology: very helpful, but needed portions taught
  • Microbiology: relevant, helpful, especially with pharm for antibiotics
  • Physics: mechanics and fluid dynamics helpful at a basic level of understanding for understanding mechanism of injury, etc.
  • Chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry: superficial understanding is all that's needed.

Once I started working, I learned Dr. Krebs' preferences when working with him.  Neither he nor I remembered anything about the cycle that bears the name of some person with whom he shares a last name.  😁

So, don't sweat it.  Undergrad is about showing you're able to get good grades in hard classes; not really about giving you specific knowledge that you'll use in PA school or PA practice.

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On 3/25/2021 at 8:32 PM, st3ppingstoneinlife said:

I perfectly understand your situation. Here’s some advice: it’s more important to understand the basics of your coursework instead of memorizing everything about it.

Thank you!! This makes me feel a lot better!

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On 3/27/2021 at 12:20 AM, ohiovolffemtp said:

Most if not all PA schools will review/teach the relevant A&P & pathophysiology as they go through particular body systems/branches of medicine.  Frankly, much of the detail that was stressed in undergrad isn't relevant in PA school, not relevant at all to passing PANCE, and not relevant to actual practice.

From what I remember of PA school:

  • A&P: relevant, but needed level of detail was taught
  • Pathophysiology: very helpful, but needed portions taught
  • Microbiology: relevant, helpful, especially with pharm for antibiotics
  • Physics: mechanics and fluid dynamics helpful at a basic level of understanding for understanding mechanism of injury, etc.
  • Chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry: superficial understanding is all that's needed.

Once I started working, I learned Dr. Krebs' preferences when working with him.  Neither he nor I remembered anything about the cycle that bears the name of some person with whom he shares a last name.  😁

So, don't sweat it.  Undergrad is about showing you're able to get good grades in hard classes; not really about giving you specific knowledge that you'll use in PA school or PA practice.

Wow! Thank you for this response!! This really makes me feel a lot better and helps a lot- especially saying that undergrad is about showing you're able to get good grades in hard classes. Honestly, I get so overwhelmed by trying to remember the little little details of everything (in A&P for example) that it ultimately does feel like it serves me no good and I don't as well as I could on an exam. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience/reflection of your undergrad classes post-PA school! Very appreciated!

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