Now that I am officially finished with the first semester of Physician Assistant school, I wanted to write up a re-cap of some of my study habits, how I balanced my time, how I ended up doing in my classes, and some things I wish I would've done. Hopefully my experience will be able to help others along the way!
How I Studied
Being out of traditional undergraduate school for about a year and a half by the time I began PA school, I was a little worried about finding my method of studying starting up again. The advice that we're always given is to try out different methods of learning until you find the one that gives you the best results in the quickest amount of time. In undergrad, it was rare (and this is bad) that I had to really commit course information to memory for a long amount of time. Courses like Microbiology and Pharmacology were the ones that I would invest a lot of time into, but the courses like Health Sciences or other electives were ones that I would store info in my memory for as little time as possible to make the grades I needed to make and forget it all after the exams. I survived undergrad with that kind of mentality, but PA school is completely different because I'm finally at the point where I'm learning for REAL LIFE. Everything at this point is important and vital to my success in my career. Knowing this really changes your perspective and you want to be able to gain as much knowledge and keep this knowledge stored because it'll only help you treat patients one day. That being said, in the past I used a lot of quizlet type notecards and a lot of repetition. Now, I've found that making "master sheets" of the chapters we cover (making one sheet of need-to-know important info) has helped me and I make these one-page guides by using the huge whiteboards in our library. Here's an example:
I've still continued using Quizlet, and have been making outlines of the chapters we cover with another classmate before the chapter is covered in class.
How I Balanced
If I were to rate my balance on a scale of 1-10, I'd rate it a 7/10. I think I know when I am able to take a break for a night or spend time watching tv, going out to eat, hanging out, etc., but towards the end I think I fell off with taking the initiative to work out and to prepare homemade meals. It is so incredibly easy to just go pick up food before I night full of studying and fail to wake up early enough to work out before classes. That's something I want to work on for the fall!
How I Did
When it comes to my courses, I made all A's! I'm happy and proud of myself, because at my school, making a 79 is considered failing, so when you make a B, it really does cut it close. I'm sure there will be times in the fall where I fail, but I am going to try my hardest to avoid that.
What I Wish I Would've Done
One thing I wish that I would've done was to review the lecture/chapter that we covered in class that same evening, because repetition is EVERYTHING. I am someone who needs a lot of exposure to something to feel comfortable with the information. Because PA school moves at the speed of lightening, I need to discipline myself to stay on task and on schedule to keep up with the lectures and not feel completely behind by the time the exams roll around.
What is Next
Fall 2017 schedule includes Human Anatomy (taught my med school), Anatomy lab where we are dissecting and prosecting cadavers, Behavioral Health, Clinical Medicine, Cross Cultural Health, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology! I think we have 17 credit hours in total for the fall so wish me luck because I'm sure I'll need it at some point!