Photo Credit Luis Macalinao
To join the PA profession is a respected and distinguished path. Physician Assistants go through vigorous training in order to attain their dreams. The length of the journey may be different depending upon when you entered the profession but the sacrifices have been the same.
In order to succeed I had to place many of my desires aside and eat, breath, sleep medicine. During my didactic year, every day was the same: greet the security guard upon entering the building, head straight to the classroom, find a seat, and strap on my imaginary seatbelt. The four white walls consumed us all and at 5:00 p.m. when the whirlwind had settled, I was off to the library to recap the storm that had just passed. Many people parallel pa school to medical school. I would consider pa school an abridged version where pathophysiology is lightly brushed upon and focus is heavily placed on learning to identify illness, diagnose, treat, and educate patients.
My clinical year was extremely gratifying and more pleasurable. It was my chance to apply everything I had learned the previous year. Trying in their own ways, rotations gave me the opportunity to taste all of the different flavors in medicine. I had 10 rotations which cumulatively took fifty weeks to complete. Each rotation dictated my schedule. Some were more grueling than others, requiring 24 hour calls and night shifts.
My short white coat always weighed me down as I carried anything and everything that I could possibly need for the day. I distinctly remember trying to figure out how to organize my pocket eye chart, stethoscope, reflex hammer, pocket guide, a spiral notepad, protein bars, pens and cell phone in my pockets without looking like a rookie - which was an epic fail!
During those two years of training, when family or friends asked me what I was doing my typical response was, “studying.” No one seemed to understand exactly what one had to endure in order to become a PA, and as a result some of my relationships fell by the wayside. Often times, Friday nights were celebrated with Bates going over details on how to conduct a physical exam. Rejoicing after surviving another exam was done with espresso alongside a stack of material as I prepared for the next battle. The sacrifice was real and if I had the chance to do it all over again, Physician Assistant Degree – I would still choose you!