Surviving PA School (So far)

Nov 29, 2011

Making it through general surgery last month marked the completion of six of our twelve required rotations.
In a way, I feel like we are kinda "over the hump" so I think I am capable of sharing some of the things that have helped me survive the past year and a half.

Now, I am most definitely not the ideal straight A student that everyone should strive to be like, but I do feel that I have managed to appropriately balance receiving a good education (aka passing my classes) with still having a little bit of fun (thus far!)
I decided early on that missing out on opportunities to spend time and make memories with my friends and family was not worth the difference between an A and a B.
Don't get me wrong, I study my butt off, I just don't let studying literally consume all my spare time.

Here are some things that have helped out the most along the way:

The most beneficial advice for surviving school came from dad.
We grew up always getting speeches about how attitude is everything.
The most powerful statement he made was "Happiness is a choice"
Not dwelling on the negative and tough things (as hard it may seem) is one of the keys to keeping a good attitude.

Jenna has had this verse on our fridge since Day 1 of school, and seeing it daily has been the biggest source of encouragement.
Keeping faith that God will take care of us no matter how strenuous the circumstances may seem always provides an unbelievable sense of peace.
I don't know how I could have survived all of this without my best friend, we are so lucky to be able to tackle this monster together!

During a particular night of distress, I literally googled "advice for surviving PA school".
I was led to one of the most helpful blogs around, written by a PA student from Texas, Tim.
(Josh and I got to meet him and his wife Emily last month!)
Tim has recently graduated (and he started working in orthopedic surgery), but he continues to write helpful posts for PAs and PA students all the time.
Click here to check out his blog, I highly encourage it!

PA school (or any grad school for that matter) only "ruins your social life" if you let it.
Prioritizing your study time definitely allows you to set aside spare time for fun things.
(Like flag football!)

Goof off! 
Don't take yourself (or school) toooooo seriously!
Remember you are paying for your education so enjoy it & get your moneys worth!
(I guess paying attention in class makes your money with it a little bit too)

Travel is a great motivation. 
Before school started, I was really upset about potentially losing the freedom (and the spare time and money) that I had in undergrad which allowed me to travel quite often.
With some extreme organizational skills and prioritizing studying (along with taking advantage of every single break available) I was able to continue our concerting and traveling.
I learned that I am really good at studying in the car and even on my phone! 
There's an app for that!
. . . seriously, a notecard app.
'twas amazing.
Throughout school so far I have been able to make time to go to Denver, Breckenridge, Cozumel/Jamaica/Grand Cayman, Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, and even Seattle (twice!)

Take advantage of all the awesome things you get to do.
When else in your life will you get to hold a brain???
. . . or use sutures to sew a crown on a mini sombrero headband?

Surrounding yourself with happy, positive people is key!
(even though an occasional vent fest with classmates is necessary from time to time!)

Getting 8 hours of sleep was crucial.
It was rare that Jenna and I got any less than 8 hours of sleep a night, regardless of any tests or early rotation hours the next day.
We may have lost some vital "cramming" time, but we were rarely overstressed, grumpy, or depressed.
(and we didn't managed to fail any tests either!)

It's hard to believe truly haw fast everything has gone by,
. . . al of a sudden, graduation doesn't seem that far away!
It's borderline terrifying.

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