Spotlight - Sarah Wagner
Undergrad/Master's degree/ College attended: Mathematics and French from University of Southern Indiana
What made you want to be a PA?
After my previous employer left the city, I decided I wanted to enter the medical profession. Becoming a PA allowed me to complete my medical training in a few years and be able to have autonomy that some medical professions don't have.
Why UEPA? Or what makes UEPA different than other PA Programs?
My family is in Evansville. My children go to school in this area. I wanted to train at a program where I could get involved with local providers during my clinical rotations. Being able to train in the city where I eventually wanted to work was very important to me.
What was your major in undergrad and did it prepare you for PA School?
I think my mathematics degree helped me think through problems in a systematic way, and my degree in French helped me with some medical terminology throughout the program. I never would have guessed how many anatomy, physiology, and disease terms had French roots before I entered PA school.
How hard is it…really?
PA school is the hardest academic endeavor I've ever taken on, but it is definitely manageable. The key to being successful is knowing your weaknesses and actively working to overcome them. Making sure to find a good balance of school and personal life is almost as hard as the academic load itself.
What is your best advice for the interview process?
Don't be afraid to get something "wrong". The interview process is not about getting the correct answer or doing everything right. It's about having a good thought process.
Are students at UE competitive or collaborative?
We are a little of both. I don't think you can find any academically challenging program in any discipline where the students aren't at least a little bit competitive. We are all overall high achievers, and it's hard to get into a graduate program like UE's PA program without being somewhat competitive (if only competitive with yourself). That being said, UE's culture is very much about collaboration. Students are not ranked, and unless we tell each other our grades, we don't know how we compare with each other. This fosters an environment where students are more willing to work together and share resources. My class gave each other notes, made practice questions and shared them with each other, and collaborated on making study guides for exams. The fact that we weren’t competing with each other in the program made us more willing to help those students who were struggling and made us more willing to ask others for help when any of us were struggling ourselves.
What is your typical day like?
I get my kids off to school and leave when they get on the bus. I usually get to UE around 8:00, whether we have an 8:00 class or not. I typically leave UE by 4 to pick up kids and get home. I spend about an hour working out (usually playing pickleball with my classmates). Any time between 8:00 and 4:00 not spent in class or working out is spent studying. I usually study an hour or two after the kids go to bed. On weekends I spend three to four hours a day studying at most...I try to keep weekends for family time. There were some weeks that I spent more time studying and other weeks I spent less time studying. Finding a good balance between studying and family time was pretty difficult, but I don't regret my choice to enter PA school at all.