Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Balance and PA school...trying to balance


PA school is challenging no doubt about it, but maybe not in the way you think. For me, the content was not difficult, it was intellectually stimulating, fun, at times a little dry but there are somethings you just have to memorize/know. The hardest part was adjusting to a new routine, and figuring out how to study best. One of the long time faculty members emphasized to us not to change our studying habits and keep up what we have been doing in undergrad. (Remember that is what gets you to PA school). Myself and others have tried different methods of studying despite what our ridiculously smart professors tell us. I feel confident after having used this semester to test some different things out to say those ridiculously smart professors were correct. You methods of studying will probably not change much, maybe the integration of a few new things here and there but nothing major. Your time management abilities/skills will get better whether you like it or not.  Here were some of my non-content challenges and how I have tackled them:

  • Commuting... before starting PA school my commute was really non-exsistent. I liked with in 20 mins of both my school and work. The longest drive I had was to my girlfriend living in San Diego but that was only about every other weekend, and I could time when I left so the traffic was not bad. Now that I am driving roughly 50 miles round trip each day I have to school the commute has gotten serious. During the first few weeks of school it really took a toll on me. I HATED sitting on the freeway in the morning knowing I could be driving 80 mph and be at school in about a half hour but with TRAFFIC I was stuck. (I think the US government good use the LA traffic as a form of psychological torture on prisoners they are trying to get information from.) 
    • So how did deal with this new debacle... I spent some time looking up different ways to school (freeway or no freeway), got up a little earlier (which means I get to school before most people and get in an hour or two of quite study time), stayed at school after class to avoid traffic going home. I would bring at least lunch or dinner and if I was really prepared I would bring enough food for both. TIME.. eventually I adjusted to the drive found a better route to school 
  • Exercise... I started CrossFit before PA school and loved it! I also thought I could totally fit this in around school. Well, there is reality (ironic given the name of the box is CrossFit Reality). Between the commute, studying and trying to sleep and eat exercise was put on the back burner. I think during this first semester I went a total of 3 times.... that is embarrassing! I did exercise on my own but it was often a short run at 11, 12, or sometimes even 12:30 at night. Not the safest thing in the world but sometime you just have to run. 
    • Now that I know what school requires, and I have gotten a better commute down, I am really out of excuses for not going. This semester that plan is to go to a CrossFit class at least 2x week and when I can't get there I have gotten a few new toys for my home CrossFit gym. 
  • Long Distance Relationship... it is not easy! BUT I was not alone. There are several other people in my class with there significant others on the other side of the U.S. so I can't really complain. But at the same time, I can argue that each relationship is unique.
    •  For us (my girlfriend and I)  I did a good job of warning my girlfriend of what PA school was going to require of me. (If you can, I would take your partner to an information session or least sit them down and look them in the eyes and say this PA school thing is going to take some time away from you and I). My girlfriend and I also planned date nights w/ no discussion of "weird diseases". Some weekends we just met for dinner half way between San Diego and Long Beach, that way I was able to still have the weekend to study and I did not loose much time traveling. When I would go down for the weekend I take the Amtrak train, which allowed me to study and w/ free wifi I could still access all my notes and books. It is not easy but with some planning and understanding of the needs of your partner, PA school and a long distance relationship is possible!

As far as the content of PA school the thing I found most challenging was pharmacology. The people that come up with drug names must use some random letter generator and then when they get something that looks like a word they go with it. Memorizing drug names, mechanism of action, side effects and other things related to drugs was not easy, but it is manageable. 

If you have any questions or want to share obstacles you have faced while in school feel free to leave a comment.