What We Wish We Knew Before Starting PA School

Physician Assistant Parent

Like parenting … nothing can truly prepare you for PA School. It’s one of those things that you just have to experience on your own. As student parents, we all have different perspectives on ways that we wish we had prepared beforehand. Below are a collection of those responses.

That PA School would be more about personal growth for me than anything else. I already knew what juggling parenthood and student life entailed, so I was prepared for that part. What I hadn’t expected was the amount of self reflection and maturity I would gain. I am naturally a very driven and goal oriented woman who is usually on top of her game. People often come to me for advice. But being in a class of my peers with similar “type A-overachieving-perfectionist” personalities was a bit unsettling. I was no longer the big fish in a little pond, I was now in an ocean. This has been a journey to truly discover who Jennifer is and becoming comfortable in my individuality. A time to really focus on what I am good at and what I have to offer. Building that confidence is an ongoing lesson but everyday I am learning more about who I am and the kind of provider I aim to be. ~Jennifer

How happy I would be in the end. My mentor, who is also a mom, scared me to death about how hard it would be.  It made me question if I should even go. Now, I understand her intentions were to prepare me for the level of stress and difficulty that was up ahead. She wanted to make sure I had a solid support system set up to help make things run as smoothly as possible. ~Yocheved

I wish I would’ve done more research about student life. I knew what it took to get into PA school but didn’t really have an idea of what was truly behind “The Great Arc walls of PA school. ~Chaya

You don’t have to be perfect in PA school! Once you’re accepted, you’re in! I knew this but still didn’t apply it. When I first started PA school, I was trying to be perfect in all aspects of life. I was spending 8-10 hours a day in class, an hour at cross fit, studying all night, and trying to be the perfect mom and wife. That’s not possible, and for me, that’s totally ok. I also felt like I had to absorb every single thing while I was in that didactic year. I won’t know everything even when I graduate! I will continue to learn and grow even as a provider. It’s a competitive process to get into PA school, but once you’re in, the goal becomes making it to graduation! ~Amanda

That was nothing like any type of previous college experience I had ever had. It is graduate school on steroids. It is not that the material is hard, it is how much I needed to learn in a short time. I wish I had known the capacity of work I was getting into and the real sacrifices I was going to have to make in order to manage time with my family. I wish I had known that I was going to miss everything that I loved about my son and that I would have to spend my free time differently. I thought I knew, but I had no idea how mentally strong I would have to be as a mother in PA school. But even if I had known this before starting, it wouldn’t have made a difference because I couldn’t truly understand until going through it myself ~married mother of one

The workload and content of the material. Knowing what I know now, I would’ve brushed up a little more on pathophysiology and come into the program more prepared. ~Lewis

Advice from a parent about what it would be like to juggle being a graduate student and mom. There’s not a whole lot of advice out there. In my class of nearly 50 students, there are 3 parents including myself – 2 moms and 1 dad. ~Ashley

The academic portion isn’t hard. What makes it hard is there isn’t enough time to really learn the information the way you want to. I don’t pick things up very quickly. I have to draw and work things out in my head. I have to know the ins and outs to really understand it. So PA school has been a struggle. I am not a naturally smart person, I have to go through things a few times to get it. ~Roxie

I wish I had better study skills going into PA school. I wasn’t used to studying in a self-directed way, so having those skills going into PA school would have been very helpful. Instead I had to find what worked for me and remember that I was studying to treat patients not pass an exam. ~China

I expected PA school to be hard. I don’t mind the hard work since I know that it is temporary. I just wish I had known about the PA profession sooner. That way I would not have wasted so much time in classes I did not need during undergrad. ~single mother of one

Hopefully this has given you some insight as to how you can avoid falling down the same pitfalls and making the same mistakes we did. All of us have different circumstances and are coming from various walks of life. While many of our experiences may be similar, no two are exactly alike. The same will be true for you on your journey. Feel free to share your story in the comments section.

Leave a Reply