How to prepare for PA school: After Acceptance

The low-down on how to spend your precious time before starting PA school.
While many of you may be in Mid-CASPA mode right now (& I have a blog coming for you later this week), the other half of you are gearing up to move and start your PA programs in just a couple of months!
It literally feels like just yesterday that I was in your shoes. The in-between period of finishing up your gap year of classes, wrapping up the time you’ll be at your current job, or transitioning right out of undergrad -- the unknown expectations of grad school can be daunting.
For those who are already accepted: We all have different personalities and ways we prefer to utilize our time, however I've listed a few things below that I definitely recommend before beginning your first day of the didactic year.

1.     Find a way to relax! I know you want to get ahead, trust me I GET IT (and I also get so many emails asking me how to get ahead before starting school). Don’t worry about what’s ahead academically. These are your last moments before you hit the ground running & you need to use it relaxing as much as possible. Don’t go through your old binder of anatomy. Don’t try teaching yourself pharmacology. Just don’t. Find a way you relax best and do it.

2.     Spend time with the ones you love as much as possible. When PA school starts regardless if it’s in state or out of state, life changes and you will have to cut your time down on things you will be able to do “just for fun”- so do them now! Travel, go on road trips, go see the grandparents that you’ve been meaning to visit, hangout with old friends, make new memories going on adventures.

3.     Don’t stress out about the loans: this is a big one. Most of us (more like 99.9% of us) use federal loans to get through PA school, this is very normal and expected. In fact, most programs will not allow you to work during your time in the program and honestly I’m not sure if that would be physically possible if it is allowed. However, be aware of your financial responsibility that comes with taking out a large loan. Most schools will give you disbursements of your loan instead of giving you a lump sum of 100,000 dollars – I mean, obvious reasons.
Before starting your program I recommend planning out a budget and knowing the average you spend monthly on groceries, toiletries, car expenses, phone bills, etc. I would refer to the price of your programs tuition to see how much rent you are willing to spend prior to apartment/house shopping. Even if you are able to get the entire grad plus loan- this surely does not mean you need to spend it

4.     Remember: Now that you’ve been accepted, you represent your program and the profession – It’s a great time to start being professional. Aka delete your undergrad photos doing beer funnels in a frat house off of your Facebook (or at minimum reevaluate who you’re sharing photos with on your social media avenues). While I’m sure many of you probably already accounted for this during applications, it doesn’t hurt to tidy up your social media into something a bit more professional. Whether you believe me or not, your faculty will learn more about you than you will realize so, be wise who/where you share your information.

5.     Learn a little about the area you’ll be living in. I remember I moved to Knoxville a couple weeks prior to my program starting & I’m so glad I did! I met a couple classmates through our class Facebook page and we went on so many hikes, found coffee shops, bought gym memberships, found fun community events on the weekends, shopped for our business casual attire we would be wearing for our didactic year, and learned a little bit about each other (which definitely helped ease into the swing of things when classes began).

6.     Find an upperclassman and find out which books you will actually need. I wouldn’t really rush into this until maybe a month before classes start, but definitely be aware that some books that are listed as “required” aren’t always used – so don’t waste your money. Your upperclassman will have the best advice for this!

If you’re reading this and you’re about to start PA school in the coming months, know that I’m so excited for you! So many amazing bonds with your classmates will be formed that no one else will be able to relate to outside of your program, great memories will be made in the long nights of studying, and experiences you’ll treasure years down the road.
Please keep me updated on your journey & always feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have before/during school! I’m here for ya & stoked to have another colleague in pursuit of this amazing profession! 
* Coming soon How to Prepare for PA School: For Those Still in Undergrad

-       AK


[Photos below are from the weeks prior to my didactic year beginning & all of the adventures we went on as new friends/classmates!]