What Is A Support System?

I think some of us have the misconception that a support system is being surrounded by an infinite amount of people that are readily available whenever you call. Images of a stay at home mom surrounded by family and friends comes to mind. But in reality that’s not the case for most of us embarking on the PA-C journey. 

Some of us may be coming from broken homes, survivors of trauma and/or trying to escape the dysfunction we were previously immersed in. Life happened and you saw that you wanted a better life for yourself. One full of options and hope. But you have no idea how to do this with help since your prospects for a support system seem to be slim to none.

Surely you have heard of the treachery that is called pa school. The 40+ hours a week spent in a classroom, an ungodly amount of time spent studying outside of the classroom for an endless attack of exams that consistently make you rethink your career choice. I mean, you’ve gotten this far on your own without anyone’s help… how hard could pa school possibly be?!

IT’S F*ING HARD!!!! 

Trying to balance it all while raising a family feels nearly impossible… but it is possible. Very much possible. Especially with a support system in tow. 

What is a support system?

It’s a minimum of 1-3 people that you can rely on to show up for you in times of need and/or emergencies. These people are a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a phone call away in times of need. Emphasis on need! Obviously be courteous and respectful of other people’s time. If you’re on your surgery rotation and it’s unclear what time you will be getting off, explain that to them so they know what to expect. If you have lousy reception in the hospital, explain that as well and that you’ll be checking in often to see how things are going. If it’s something you can figure out on your own, then do so. Don’t overuse their offerings of kindness. Don’t forget to show your appreciation either. 

Support Systems Can include paid help as well

  • The daycare center/school your child attends while you’re in class
  • The on call baby sitter/ nanny to help with emergencies 
  • The therapist you confide in
  • The reasonably priced cleaning lady you found on Groupon 

A support system is more than just childcare

  • The friend in another state who texts you words of encouragement 
  • Anyone you can call on to vent 
  • Classmates who understand your struggle on a deep and personal level 
  • Spouses & Family members of classmates who are more than happy to lend a helping hand with your kiddos, meals and/or transportation 

Bottom Line

You don’t have to do this alone. If you have the traditional idea of a support system filled with family and friends around to help you navigate these trying times, great! But for those of you who are holding things down on your own and hate asking for help, I would strongly urge you to put the pride aside and allow others to help you reach your goals. Allow people to celebrate your wins and losses with you. Allow people to be there for you in the same way you show up for them. 2-3yrs is a long time to be an unemployed full time student. Life is going to happen. Your support system is your back up plans A-Z as life pops up unexpectedly. 

Overall

Parenting in pa school is a very steep mountain to climb all alone. No rewards or extra credit will be given to someone who suffered the road alone… ESPECIALLY when you don’t have to. Support is needed well beyond PA School as well. Put yourself out there and start networking. Checkout the articles linked for suggestions on how to build your own village and an example of one mom who had to do it while enrolled in the program. 

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