Mikayla Harvey

Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology from the University of Evansville


Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

What made you want to be a PA?

I was very involved in team sports growing up, so I knew I wanted to carry that into my career. Through shadowing experiences in high school and undergrad, I came to love how physician assistants fit into the healthcare team and provide care to patients. I also love the versatility and flexibility of the profession allowing you to practice in a variety of different fields.

Why UEPA? Or what makes UEPA different from other PA programs?

I knew I wanted to be a PA pretty early on, thanks to various shadowing experiences in high school so when I was deciding where to go to undergrad, I became interested in UE due to UEPA’s direct entry program. On my very first visit to UE as a high school senior, UEPA faculty took the time to meet with my family and myself to answer any questions. This incredibly personal gesture went a long way and little did I know that was representative of the entire UEPA faculty and staff. They genuinely care about not just your success in PA school but care about you as a person. UEPA has cultured this amazing community that is supportive and collaborative to help you thrive throughout PA school and that’s what makes them so unique.

What do you find is your biggest challenge in being a PA student?

My biggest challenge has definitely been still being in school. I was the only one of my friends from undergrad to go on to graduate school, so it was hard being the only one without a job and still having to study- and not to mention study A LOT more than I had before. Having to sacrifice some vacations, weddings or family events is hard, but I would always remind myself of my end goal and that it really is only 2.5 short years.

Did you do anything that really helped you prepare for PA school?

I think taking challenging science classes in undergrad helped prepare me for the rigor of the PA school curriculum. Outside of that, I don’t think there is too much you can do to prepare you for the amount of information you learn in a short 28 months. Just come in with an open mind and ready to learn!

What is your best advice for anyone working on the CASPA application?

Start early! Also don’t be afraid to reach out to our program, or any program’s, admission director to ask questions whether it be about CASPA or program specifics. This is a good way to introduce yourself while also getting any of your questions answered!

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be bold, ask questions and be an advocate for yourself! During didactic, don’t be scared to ask questions and fully take advantage of faculty who are experts in their fields. During clinical year, be confident in what you know and don’t be scared to ask your preceptors if you can do any sort of procedure or suturing. PA school has really helped me embrace the common saying, “you will never know, if you don’t ask!”

What is the one thing about PA school you weren't prepared for?

I wasn't prepared for the amount of information we were expected to learn in such a short time period, but I don’t think anyone can be prepared for it! It truly is like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. While I wasn't prepared for this, you quickly adapt and learn how to be a very efficient studier.

How hard is it…really???

I won't lie, PA school is hard, but it is definitely manageable especially with good time management. As long as you stay on top of the material, studying a little bit every day, you will be able to manage school while still having some time for yourself, friends and family!

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class was clinical skills which is the class where you start to learn procedures! I loved getting hands on experience in this class while learning how to suture, intubate, cast, place central lines and much more. Since it is in the last semester of the didactic phase, it was a fun segway into clinical year.

What is a typical day like in didactic year?

During didactic, I would wake up around 6:30 a.m. and usually review material for any quizzes or tests we had that day. Then, I'd make my way to Stone for classes typically from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. We have small breaks throughout the day between classes for lunch and then extra study time. After class, I would either stay at stone to study or go back home to study depending on how productive I needed to be! Around 4-5 o'clock I would always try to get outside and take a walk or head to the gym for a workout. Then, it would be time for dinner. I would give myself a cutoff for studying around 9 p.m. but some days I would call it a day around 4!

What is your favorite part of PA School?

My favorite part is the community I have developed throughout PA school. I have made lifelong friendships with my classmates and developed a healthcare network with UEPA faculty, alumni and clinical year preceptors who have all helped me achieve my dream of becoming a physician assistant.

What is your best advice for the interview process?

Be yourself! UEPA faculty is truly interested in your personality and character so make sure you let that shine through.

How do you balance school and other aspects of your life?

Time management is key! Plan out your week and try to stick to it- especially with your study schedule. This way if you have a weekend event with friends or family, you can plan for extra study time beforehand.

What is your favorite thing about the clinical year?

I love getting to interact with patients! It is exciting to be able to participate in patients’ care while also still learning from my preceptor. I also love getting to apply all the knowledge we studied so hard to learn during didactic to clinical cases. There are so many real life “ah-ha” moments where something you may not have totally understood in the textbooks comes to life and makes perfect sense when you see it/learn it clinically.

What specialty do you want to pursue? Why?

I am interested in pursuing either emergency medicine or a surgical subspecialty. In emergency medicine, I really enjoy the fast pace and vast array of diagnoses you see every day. I also really like being able to assess a patient and order labs, imaging, etc. to try to figure out the best next course of action. On the other hand, I really enjoy surgery and getting to see patients all the way through their care. I like seeing them preoperatively in office, assisting in their surgery and then seeing them post op as well. It's really gratifying when you get be there from start to finish of a patient’s care.

What is a typical day like in clinical year?

This must be a trick question because I’m not sure a “typical day” exists during clinical year as every day is different and changes with each rotation. But here’s an example from my general surgery rotation. On surgery days, I arrive at the hospital around 7 a.m. and make my way to the locker room to change into hospital scrubs. Then, I check the OR board for my preceptor’s name and head into the OR to introduce myself to the team for the day, write my name on the board and grab my gown & gloves. Then, I go pre-scrub before the case. Once my preceptor arrives, we go see the patient in pre-op and answer any questions they may have. After this I head back to the OR to help the team of nurses, anesthesia and scrub techs prepare the patient once they get to the operating room. During surgery, I get to first assist my preceptor and suture all incisions at the end of the case. After the first surgery of the day, I go pre-round on our patients, report back to my preceptor and start writing progress notes. Then, sometime throughout the day in-between surgeries we will go round together. We do between 5-8 surgeries a day depending on volume and if my preceptor is on call or not which means getting home at a slightly different time each day.