Biology Major and Psychology Minor from the University of Southern Indiana
Hometown: Montgomery, Indiana
What made you want to be a PA?
My decision to pursue PA school began during high school when I was first introduced to the profession. Through shadowing and working alongside PAs in college, I knew that becoming a PA was the right path for me. I admired how PAs use critical thinking, autonomy, and collaboration to provide patient-centered care as an integral part of the healthcare team. Being a PA is more than just a “job” but rather a rewarding and fulfilling profession that requires lifelong commitment, dedication, and passion that makes a true impact on the lives of our patients. For me, pursuing PA school just seemed like a perfect fit and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Why UEPA? Or what makes UEPA different from other PA programs?
I chose UEPA for a variety of reasons that were important to me. UEPA is a program that is close to home but also has an excellent track record of training successful PAs. UEPA has incredible faculty and staff, high graduation rates, and exceptional PANCE pass rates. The program fully invests in their students and allows them not only to succeed, but truly excel and reach their fullest potential. The UEPA curriculum goes beyond the classroom and prepares its students to be lifelong learners who make a difference in their communities. It is such a unique and successful program, and I am proud to be a member of the UEPA program.
What do you find is your biggest challenge in being a PA student?
Initially, my biggest challenge in being a PA student was finding the right school-life balance. It can be very easy to devote all of your time to school and neglect other aspects of your life. On the other hand, it is also easy to fall behind in school if you are not well prepared. As PA school progresses, you will find the right balance and what works for you individually.
Did you do anything that really helped you prepare for PA school?
Previous healthcare experience really helped me prepare for PA school. While working as an ER scribe and outpatient orthopedic scribe, I was able to see firsthand how PAs interact with patients and collaborate with other members of the healthcare team. I gained a much better understanding of the specific role PAs have within the medical system and which attributes, traits, and skills make for a successful PA.
What is your best advice for anyone working on the CASPA application?
My best advice for anyone working on the CASPA application is to begin the application process early. A competitive application requires many hours of work and great attention to detail. There are many sections to complete and several deadlines associated with your application. By starting the application process early, it gives you time to carefully prepare your application, fully review your application, and meet all the required deadlines.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
If I could give myself one piece of advice, it would be to study a little bit each day during the didactic year. By studying just a few hours per day, you can stay up to date with the material and still have time for other things outside of school. Also, you can help avoid long study sessions that often lead to undue stress and feelings of burnout.
What is the one thing about PA school you weren't prepared for?
I was not fully prepared for the fast pace of PA school. You will be learning new topics in multiple classes each day and it can be easy to fall behind. Some days, it may feel like you are “drowning” but this is a feeling that almost all students experience at some point. After a few weeks of school, you will get used to this pace and adjust your study habits accordingly.
How hard is it…really???
PA school can be intimidating and challenging at times but my best advice is to stay focused and keep believing in yourself. I believe the pace of PA school is the most challenging part as you will be learning new topics in multiple classes each day. There will be some long days and tough weeks, but overall PA school is such a rewarding experience and the challenges along the way will only better prepare you for the future.
What is your favorite class?
My favorite class has been 12-Lead EKG during the summer semester. This was only a 5 week course but it was something I was interested in and really enjoyed learning about. I was interested in the science behind EKGs and how various factors can affect EKG findings. Interpreting an EKG can be quite complex and requires you to incorporate many different aspects including the patient’s current condition, lab values, and comparison with previous EKGs.
What is a typical day like in didactic year?
Typical days during the didactic year can vary slightly based on which classes you are taking and which labs you are in but overall, the schedule is pretty consistent. Most days begin with class around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. Most days end around 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. but we may have lab later in the afternoon depending on which day of the week it is. Overall, you spend the majority of your time in class but there are occasional breaks that we use for lunch and additional studying.
What is your favorite part of PA School?
My favorite part of PA school is simply being able to attend school and learn about medicine each day. But if I had to pick something more specific, I would say that I really enjoy the lab sections for our courses. During lab time, we gain valuable hands-on experience by practicing physical exams and procedural skills taught by dedicated faculty members and former students. This is such a great experience and learning opportunity, especially before we begin our clinical year rotations.
What is your best advice for the interview process?
My best advice is to always remain true to yourself during the interview process. Give honest and open answers and avoid being someone you are not. Always remember what makes you unique and why you wanted to pursue PA school in the first place. Do not be afraid to highlight your attributes and accomplishments, but also do not be afraid to admit your shortcomings.
How do you balance school and other aspects of your life?
I try to balance school with other aspects of my life by studying a little bit each day and knowing what my limits are. My goal is to stay up to date on the material without entirely sacrificing other aspects of my life. I always make sure to take periodic study breaks to avoid stress and feeling of burnout. It may take some time to find the right balance for you and your definition of balance might be different than some of your classmates.