Finding Balance in The Clinical Year

Finding balance in the clinical year can be challenging. Mostly due to the ever-changing schedule with each rotation (Watch What No One Told You About The Clinical Year). This is the year that requires your support system to be ALL HANDS ON DECK, especially as it pertains to childcare. Not only is there the possibility of 14+ hour work days in addition to being on call, but you are still a student. With exams and quizzes, written assignments, a master’s thesis/graduate project, patient logs, resume updates, job interviews … shall I go on? The anxiety does not stop in the 2nd year. Life can still get rather hectic so you have to find a new way to balance it with the continuous chaos called The Clinical Year.

In addition to preparing my support system for the worse case scenarios and constantly showing them my appreciation; here’s what I have learned along the way to help me maintain some semblance of balance… and my sanity.

Goals, Due dates & To-Do lists

You won’t know your schedule until arriving at your rotation. Which means that every x-amount of weeks, you will not know how much study time, which event, appointments, school function or extracurricular activity you can attend until your 1st day. And depending on what that schedule is, you won’t be able to attend any of them. So set your planner aside for a moment and create a to-do list of what needs to be done within the time frame of the current rotation. For example, my to-do list for my current rotation includes:

  • Complete Elective II assignment by 6/3
  • Complete Exam Master quiz by 6/11
  • Register NCCPA & Schedule PANCE
  • Begin FL temporary license process
  • Get a hold of Veteran Education Benefits Counselor about upcoming graduation
  • Study for summative exam & OSCE on 6/13
  • Complete 20-50 PANCE-style practice questions daily
  • Emedley stuff (Patient logs, etc.), credentialing for next rotation, update resume
  • Personal Life Stuff – Create Monthly budget on 6/1, Schedule home repairs with contractors, Register & pay for summer camp, complete enrollment for daughter’s 2019-2020 school year, host this month’s family dinner

Since I know in advance what needs to be done with due dates, I plan accordingly once the schedule is received. I know some of you are thinking “why not call in advance to get your schedule?” Sure you can try to do that, but it doesn’t always work out. Often times you will be contacting an office manager for first day details and the information they give you may differ from that of your preceptor. There have been times when I’ve showed up as directed and no one in the office knew a student was coming. It’s just easier to speak with your preceptor directly once you start.

Outsource Help

If there is anything and I mean ANYTHING that you can purchase already prepared, someone else is willing to help you with or you can afford to pay someone else to do it … THEN LET IT GO! Cooking, cleaning, groceries, back to school shopping, etc. Basically all of the things that Must be done, but have grown to become a nuisance in the midst of your fatigue and crazy schedule – be willing to seek additional help or choose convenience. Grocery pickup/delivery, meal prep services, home cleaning services/Groupons, Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store option, pre-packaged meals … all of these services were created for a reason Girl, Use them! These options are a total lifesaver so include convenience and delivery fees into your budget if possible.

Side Note: I am speaking from the perspective of a single parent of a 7-year-old. If your kid(s) are old enough, spouse’s schedule is flexible enough or you have friends/family willing to do these things, then great! Start enlisting their help, you will likely need it

Go With The Flow

Now is your time to apply all that you’ve been learning in didactic year. Take full advantage of this opportunity on rotations. Use time away from rotations for adulting and relaxing/chilling with family. Study during downtime or in between pts. Use your lunch hour to catch up on errands. For rotations with lighter schedules, try to use that time to get a head start on life stuff, written assignments/graduate project and keeping up with your patient logs.

Th Clinical year is a whole new beast. It definitely challenges how secure your support system is. But it’s also more enjoyable. An opportunity to actually put into action what you have been learning all didactic year long. You get to witness how it all comes together in the grand scheme of things. This year is both exciting and a great reminder of why you are doing this in the first place. Hopefully the tips provided will help you balance all of your responsibilities more efficiently.

2 thoughts on “Finding Balance in The Clinical Year”

  1. Pingback: What to expect in PA School: The PA-S Experience - The PA Cafe

  2. Pingback: Clinical Year Truths - Part I - The PA Cafe

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