Should I talk about my kids?
Yes! Don’t shy away from it, being a parent doesn’t make you any less professional or competitive as an applicant. In fact, I feel it makes you more memorable and some interviewers look favorably upon those with children/life experience. Listen, the number of mothers in PA school may be on the rise but the research is scarce. Grad school and parenting is tough business. In our class of 75 students, there are a total of 7 moms. Just be sure you are able to express who you are as an individual and that you have that part of your life under control.
Disclaimer: Don’t play down being a mom but please don’t go on and on about your kids or use them as an excuse for constantly being late/missing assignments.
I’m a single mom and I don’t have any friends/family that can help me, can I do this on my own?
Anything is possible… but I DO NOT recommend it. YOU NEED SUPPORT. A trustworthy, reliable, drama-free support system. Not just while you are in school, but when you start working as well. Time to start flipping through that Rolodex of names in your memory bank and make some calls. Get more involved in your church/community. Join the PTA, schedule play dates, socialize with other parents at the park, during sports practices and dance recitals. Read the “Building A Support System” article for some ideas on how to seek help when friends and family aren’t an option.
What should I be doing now?
Save Money! If you can become a PA without the loans, do it! If you can’t, you still need to be saving up as much money as you possibly can before you start the program. Life will continue to happen while enrolled so having an emergency fund ready to go is crucial.
Now is a good time to brush up on your anatomy and physiology. Having a strong foundation in these areas will help digest the new material coming at you fast and in large quantities.
Time management, what’s that?
Like so many other moms, I too suffer from a severe case of mommy brains. Get into the habit of writing things down. Purchase a planner and set up your phone calendar with alerts. Learning to manage your time now will help transition into the PA program more smoothly.
My significant other isn’t fully on board, what should I do?
This is a huge problem that needs to be fixed before moving any further. If your spouse/partner isn’t 100% on board, your problems are much bigger than PA school. It’s time for a long talk and maybe consider some counseling. You don’t want to start the program without their full support.
What should I expect?
Drastic change! Not just for your life, but for everyone around you as well. You’re in class Monday- Friday from 8am-5pm. There’s never a moment you’re not studying. You won’t be spending as much time with your partner or children as you would like. Family and friends will complain they never see you anymore, and its true they don’t. If you had a life before, you can kiss it goodbye! From now on you are either cramming for an exam or trying to keep up with life.
Before you start the process, prepare your support system. Have a family meeting explaining what you are doing, why you are doing it and the changes they should expect. Let them know it is temporary and that you need their full support. Not only will they be proud of you and gladly back you up on your decision; You will be setting an example of hard work and ambition for your children to follow.
What are some of the worst-case scenarios that can happen in PA school?
- Car won’t start the morning of an exam.
- Babysitter bails at the last minute (who hasn’t experienced this one before)
- Come home to a flooded Living room
- Your kid wakes up at 3am with vomiting, diarrhea and a fever
- Car is making a weird noise and the mechanic says you will need to leave it with him for a couple of days.
- Divorce/Separation/Break up
- Tragic death of a loved one
I’m not a parent, but I am an older… I mean more “mature” student, any advice?
Same advice applies. You may not have children, but you still have a lot going on. Maybe you’re married, caring for an elderly parent, a guardian/power of attorney for a loved one with special needs. The list goes on, but the advice doesn’t change. This is going to take some serious thought, careful planning and the full support of those who love and believe in you.