Guest Post from PA Cents: Should You Do a PA Residency?

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You’re in the final stretch of Physician Assistant school: graduation, PANCE, new job, it’s in your sights. You’ve been looking online at job openings and are not sure if you’re ready to join the workforce and be a full-fledged certified PA, practicing real medicine on real patients; so you think maybe a residency might be a good choice.

Possibly you’ve been looking for a job in a competitive area and can’t find a job in the specialty that you want so you want to gain more experience. There is a lot to consider if you’re thinking about applying to a residency.

I went to PA school in Southern California where there are a number of PA schools and a large pool of PA graduates to choose from to fill positions. The hospital where my orthopedics rotation was at had a lot of medical students, residents, PA students and PA residents. I asked one of them why they chose to do the residency and she said she was not able to find a job in that location in orthopedics.

If you’re tied to a certain area and really want to be in a specific specialty then more training in that area could be helpful and might help you find a job in that specialty. You will get a lot more training and might feel more competent after a residency.

A residency is by no means a necessity to get a job in any specialty. After I graduated from PA school I had multiple job offers that were all in different specialties. I interviewed for jobs in orthopedics, neurosurgery, and endocrinology. I ended up accepting a job in general surgery.

Surgeons all use different techniques and they all think the way they do it is the best way. My first job was with a surgeon who was getting older, there were four surgeons in the practice and only one used a PA at the time.

The surgeon I worked with saw the value of having a PA in the OR, as well as in the office, and with hospital rounds and wanted to hire one too. By the time I left the practice the PA that was working there before me had already left and one of the other surgeons also hired a PA. All of the PAs they hired, including the one that replaced me, were new graduates.

An advantage of hiring a new PA rather than one that has been doing it for a while is that they could train them to do things how they wanted it done. They did not have to teach old dogs new tricks. If someone else has trained you then you might have “bad habits” or just do things differently than they are used to.

More education is never a bad thing and doing a residency does let you learn more. If you know you never want to do another specialty than taking a year to learn more in that specific specialty can help you learn a lot and possibly be a better clinician.

The first year out of PA school is like PA school part II - PA school prepares you to take the board exam and the first year of being a PA teaches you how to be a PA. When you’re looking at a first job you should look for something that is still going to help you along in your education and where there is a good learning environment.

This does not need to be a residency. There are plenty of jobs that provide a good learning environment without having to do a residency. The job that I currently work at allows new Primary Care PAs to rotate through different clinics and with different specialties before they start seeing their own patients.

Learning is also somewhat dependent on your supervising physician. The surgeon I worked with for my first job didn’t mind teaching/explaining things, but I had to ask questions a lot of the time to get him going.

There was another surgeon in our practice who was recently out of fellowship and did a better job of naturally explaining things. I think a part of this was he was just in the habit of doing it as he was used to working with residents and students at a teaching hospital, whereas the further out from training you get the less you’re in that thought process.

As a PA we have been trained as generalist and one of the beauties of being a PA is that you can change specialties without having to do more training. My first job was in general surgery and when I was ready to move on I had offers from other places in all different specialties. I was not stuck working in general surgery forever. If some people are doing residencies that may soon become the norm and with residency training for PAs if that becomes the standard we will no longer be generalist and the benefit of being able to switch specialties without more training will go away.

If you feel like residency is your only option as you’re not able to find a regular position as a PA, it’s good to know that you’ll probably have to take less money as residencies usually pay less than a regular position.

At the 2017 AAPA conference I did talk to a residency for general surgery and they were offering $75,000 which is better than the $40,000 I’ve seen in the past but it is much less than what you could get in a regular position.

Whenever you’re looking at a job you always have to weigh the pros and cons. There are some benefits, such as more training and ability to network while you’re in the residency. If you can afford to take less and invest the time to do the extra training it may help you with your skills before taking a regular position. If you’re looking at a first job and have decided to take a regular position be sure that it is a place that supports learning and is going to help you as grow as a new PA.


This article was written by the author of PA-Cents a personal finance blog for PAs; to contact the author or for information on PA personal finance visit www.pacents.com.

Guest Post from Jamie: So You Failed an Exam, Now What?

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Jamie has some great advice today about what happens if you fail an exam in PA school. This will vary based from program to program, but the one thing that's for sure is that PA school is difficult and it's not uncommon to struggle at times. Personally, I failed my very first pharmacology exam. Talk about a reality shock! After remediating, that was thankfully the only exam I didn't pass. Make sure you're following Jamie on Instagram (@jamienicole_pa.s) to get more of her awesome tips. 


Full disclaimer that while I am a student at the University of Detroit Mercy’s PA Program, I am not affiliated with the university and my views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect Detroit Mercy’s. 


First semester of PA school kicked my butt. I did not pass two out of our four clinical medicine exams. Yes, you read that right – only made it through 50% of the exams first semester (and somehow they let me keep going… Kidding!) Failing, for me, meant missing both exams by 1 point. So, then what? That’s what this blog is about: what happens after you fail.

First of all, no one is immune. Second of all, it’s OKAY to fail.

What??? Did I just say it’s OKAY TO FAIL? Yes, yes I did. Because it’s better to fail and truly recognize that you don’t know the material than to memorize/dump it on the exam while never truly learning it. It’s not just Sociology 101 anymore – the content you learn in PA school could be as serious as life or death for your patient. So, if you don’t know it, but you pass anyways, you’re only doing your patients a disservice.

Failing means you have a second chance to relearn and understand the content, to strengthen your weaknesses and become the best provider you can be. There are four things you should do following a failed exam.

  1. Take a deep breath and eat a bowl of ice cream.
    I am not responsible for any lactose-intolerance related side effects that may occur following the consumption of large quantities of Ben & Jerry’s.
  2. Go to your professor’s office hours and discuss your options.
    We will talk about Detroit Mercy’s remediation process below. Some schools do remediation exams, some schools do not require a specific grade per exam and instead do a semester average. This is a great interview question to evaluate your prospective school: “What process is in place if a student does not pass an exam?”
  3. Try techniques to reduce your anxiety during tests.
    Some people need a snack, some people need to wear earplugs, some meditate or pray before the exams, and some have such bad performance anxiety that they do best when they take a beta blocker (but leave this one up to your healthcare provider, please).
  4. Don’t lose your confidence.
    It’s easy to get lost in one bad grade. There is a lot of guilt and self-loathing that comes along with that first score where you don’t meet the mark. I cried both times, even though I knew we had a process for remediation. It’s a scary thing because it means you are one step closer to potentially being dismissed from your career. But if you let this shake you, if you let it ruin your confidence, it WILL affect your study habits for the next one and it WILL cause you to lose focus and potentially even fail again. That’s how I failed exam #2. I failed back-to-back.

Remediating Exams: Detroit Mercy’s Approach

We have a very unique exam remediation policy here at Detroit Mercy. It is a big reason I accepted my seat to this program. Detroit Mercy makes it very clear that it truly caters to student success, from their 3-year, part-time program option to their one-on-one attention from faculty to students. When your program supports you as fully as possible, it creates an incredible platform to learn and grow. So when students do not pass an exam with an 80% or better, Detroit Mercy has a very specific remediation policy and should a student not pass remediation, there is also a very specific appeals process to continue the education.

If you don’t care about how Detroit Mercy runs their remediations, feel free to stop here. Reread the above advice. 

First is remediation. We have a faculty member assigned to meet with students weekly for a remediation course. It is typically about an hour. There, the content from the exam is reviewed again. This goes on throughout the entire remainder of the semester. The Monday after finals week, remediation exams take place. If you do not pass the final, you have one extra day to study because that remediation is Tuesday. You are given a focused review to help guide your studying. This is crunch time; the most important studying of your life. No pressure. You study like crazy until the night before, get a good night’s sleep, and then take the remediation exam.

If you don’t pass remediation, you receive an email from the program administrator informing you of an “adverse determination regarding academic progression”. In this phase, you are considered “dismissal pending”. This means you have received your appeal letter and can set up a meeting with the appeal committee. To do so, one must write a letter to the program administrator describing the basis or circumstances for the appeal within 5 business days of the email. Once this hearing is established, you are expected to demonstrate why the decision should be overturned. The committee is described below.

“APPEAL OF A PROMOTION AND PROGRESS COMMITTEE DECISION:

Refer to the College of Health Professions academic appeals policy and procedure at this link.  

Composition of the Appeal Committee: The program chair will appoint an Appeal Committee as a sub-committee of the Promotion and Progress Committee and designate the chairperson. The Committee shall consist of: PA faculty members (1-2), the public member of the promotion and progress committee, the medical director and one CHP faculty member who is not a PA. Any person selected for the Committee may decline to participate due to perceived or real conflict of interest in the proceedings. A simple majority of the invited members of the Committee will constitute a quorum. Decisions must be approved by a majority of the members in attendance.

This hearing includes a full assessment of the grades from the course, clinical performance, advisor notes, compliance with previous conditions of probation and external conditions impeding success. The committee then sends a “recommendation” to the program administrator based on the student’s potential for success. The program administrator makes the ultimate decision and sends that information to the Dean, who can affirm or conduct a further appeal. If the decision is overturned, the student re-enters the program on academic probation. They must then meet certain criteria throughout the following semester. 

Typically, if the student was full-time initially, they will continue on as a 3-year, part-time student, finishing the courses like pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, and the online courses. The following year, they finish the didactic year PA core classes like clinical medicine, diagnostic & therapeutic techniques, and physical exam practicum. If the person was instead part time to begin with, they typically will have already taken the non-PA classes the year prior (it’s clinical medicine that gets most students). In this case, they repeat that second didactic year. It also highly depends on which semester and the circumstances of the specific student; some repeat all courses, some repeat only clinical medicine. Some don’t have to repeat first semester, but do repeat second semester. 99% of our students will be approved after their appeals process and have a second chance. Ultimately, the program strives to help the student succeed in any way they can.

I passed both of my remediation exams, so I did not have to pursue the appeals process. I referred to my student manual to make this post. I had to remediate cardiology, which is one of the specialties I am considering working in after graduation. After remediation, I feel strong in cardiology and I honestly enjoy all things cardiac muscle, pacemaker and ECG. I really expected to feel scarred from the whole experience, but it honestly helped me grow as both a student and a person. And with that, I will end this blog with a quote: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”


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Hi all. Thanks for reading! I'm Jamie Murawski, a physician assistant student at the University of Detroit Mercy. I have a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University. I'm a Michigan girl through and through. 

I'm growing my online presence in the PA community through Reddit, where I moderate /r/prephysicianassistant along with some other pretty cool PA students. I also have an Instagram where I pseudo-blog about my journey (@jamienicole_pa.s). Please feel free to follow me or message me with any questions, I'm happy to help!

Accepted! - Sarah from @SarahandherStethoscope

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My name is Sarah and I’ll be starting PA school in just a few weeks at Western Michigan University! I’m SO excited to finally be able to learn and practice medicine. I love all things make up and enjoy mentoring and guiding pre-PA students along their journeys, so please send me a DM if you’ve got questions! You can find me on Instagram at @sarahandherstethoscope

Overall GPA: 3.41

Science GPA: 3.45

GRE: I received a 291 combined score (yikes!). Quantitative: 142, Verbal: 149, Analytical: 5.5

Total HCE hours: ~6,000 hours as an urgent care medical assistant. ~50 hours as a clinical volunteer leader at the HUDA Clinic which is a free clinic located in Detroit, MI

Shadowing hours: ~50 hours shadowing urgent care and internal medicine PAs

Other volunteer hours: ~30 hours volunteering through pre-PA society, ~100 hours volunteering at the HUDA Clinic as a clinical volunteer leader and outreach coordinator, 35 hours volunteering as an ESL tutor, 4 years as a youth camp counselor

LORs: Microbiology professor, PA, and MD

How many times did you apply?:  Once!

Age: 23 at the time I applied and I’m 24 now

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? Six. WMich, EMich, Toledo, Marquette, Rush, and Northwestern.

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I only interviewed with WMich. I unfortunately got rejected elsewhere. I thought my interview at WMich went well! I was thrown for a loop when I found out they started holding MMI style interviews and I had been practicing for a traditional interview the entire time. Luckily, I had a friend who interviewed at several medical schools and she told me about her MMI experiences and I think that definitely helped shape my answers to the scenarios they gave at my interview! 

Any red flags on your application? The only red flag I can think of is that I was placed on academic probation for a semester back in sophomore year of undergrad. I don’t think that was the reason I was rejected at the majority of the schools I applied to, however. My rejections mostly came from my subpar GRE score. But, yes, you can still get into PA school with bad grades! You just have to be able to explain what you learned from your mistakes and how you plan on doing better!

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised that PA schools were starting to hop on the MMI bandwagon. I thought only medical schools interviewed students this way! I really enjoyed the MMI style interview because I had to think on my feet and because of that, I think my answers were a lot more genuine.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? When I studied for the GRE, I made sure to go back to the basics because I’m really bad at math. So, I used CliffNotes Math Review. It gives you step-by-step instructions on how to solve easy, medium and hard math problems that you’ll find on standardized tests. I also used the Magoosh flashcard app to practice for the verbal section. When I applied, I used the Getting Into the Physician Assistant School of Your Choice book by Andrew Rodican and it helped to show me what a well-rounded application should look like. For interviews, I used the How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview book by Andrew Rodican. It gives you three different answers to frequently asked interview questions and it explains which are good answers and which are bad answers. I wrote my answers down to each question in my copy. Also, shout out to mypatraining.com for having an ultimate PA school checklist! It helped to keep me organized before and after I applied!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? I would highly recommend getting involved with underserved communities, especially medically. Working at a free clinic humbles you and gives you the opportunity to connect with people you are different from in every aspect. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, keeps you grounded, and you’ll develop great bedside manner! Also, it’s important to not to beat yourself up over your stats. Your experiences are unique and they’ve shaped you to be the person you are today. Not every school will accept you, but it only takes that one interview and one acceptance to make it! 


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your stats and advice, please email me at savanna@thePAplatform.com to be featured. 

Nurse Mates Review - Scrubs and Align Shoes

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By now, you know that I am a scrub junkie and I love trying out all of the different brands on my mission to finding the best scrubs ever. I also want you to be able to make the best decisions possible when choosing your medical wear and equipment. Nurse Mates sent me some scrubs and shoes to try out, so keep reading to hear my thoughts. Some of the Amazon links are affiliate links so I'll get a percentage of the purchase if you use them! 

 

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For the scrubs, I am wearing a Maci Top in Small and Brooke Pant in Small Petite, both in Navy. I've found that some scrubs tend to run small or the Petite versions will be too long, so I went with the Small size, but I think these actually run true to size. Whenever I order more, I'll go with the XS, but these still fit fine, and I've been wearing them to work frequently.  My most favorite thing on these scrubs are the pockets on the Maci Top. There are so many of them! Not only are there front pockets, which is where I usually keep my pens and phone, but there are also side pockets. It's awesome. 

 

 

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For the pants, I really like the zippered pockets, which is nice for holding my credit cards when I run out to get lunch. The petite length with a 29 inch inseam is really great on these. I'm 5'1'' so I either need a shorter version or I have to get my pants hemmed, and ain't nobody got time for that. There is a tall version as well. The color is deep on these scrubs, and they've held up well in the wash with no noticeable shrinkage or fading. The price point on these scrubs is around $25 for each piece, which isn't unreasonable for a high quality set of scrubs with good fit. 

 

 

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My underscrub long sleeve tee is the Willow Top in Smoke in XS. Underscrub is great for a few reasons. It keeps you warm in a cold office, and it gives you some protection from any stray bodily fluids that you may come in contact with. It also looks nice! This cotton based top is very lightweight and easy to wear under any scrubs. I love the color of this top and I've been wearing it as quick as I can get it washed. The little embroidered heart on the sleeve is a cute touch too. This top is around $18. 

 

 

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Now let's talk about the shoes. These are the new Align Velocity shoes in Grey, and these are my absolute favorite! Nursemates got it right with these. I've experimented with many different shoes since I've been working in medicine, even when I started as a CNA, and I've developed some requirements: lots of support, comfortable all day long, and look cute and professional. These shoes check all of the boxes. I had been switching between Danskos and regular tennis shoes, but the Danskos were kind of hard and made my feet hurt if I wore them too much, and the tennis shoes didn't have the best support. 

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I was skeptical that these shoes would offer enough support based on the appearance, but I was proved wrong, and since I've gotten these, they are all I've worn to work and often outside of work when I'm just running errands. I would 100% recommend these shoes if you're looking for something that will be comfortable and stylish. They are easy to clean and resistant to stains and water. There are many other colors and styles of the "Align" line of shoes from Nurse Mates, and I have my eye on the slip-on style now that I know how great the support is. These are around $90, but so far they've held up well and totally worth it. The elastic lace in the shoe can be replaced with traditional shoe laces as well. 

I hope that helps to give you some more information if you're looking for scrubs or shoes, and I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

Guest Post from Jamie: Clinical Medicine Study Tips

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Jamie's back guys! Today, she is sharing some of her Clinical Medicine Study Tips to help you succeed during didactic year of PA school.  You may remember her previous posts, but check them out if you haven't already! - The Unexpected Costs of Interviewing and Attending PA School, Letters of Recommendation: How Do You Ask? and How Do You Get a Good One? and What's in My Medical Bag? Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means Jamie will get a few cents from Amazon if you purchase one of her recommendations! 


For Clinical Medicine:

I always read the relevant chapter of Pathophysiology Made Ridiculously Easy before we start a unit. 

Then I take notes from the PowerPoints. I reformat my professor’s PowerPoint slides into a format that suits my study technique. For me, that means creating a new PowerPoint document organized the same way as the book. 

 I try to keep each disease or disorder to one page, but sometimes they spill over. I typically start with epidemiology and pathophysiology, followed by clinical presentation, relevant labs or imaging, treatment and then complications.

Some of my classmates make charts instead in Microsoft Word. They’ll do diseases down the first column and then the columns following will be:

  • “Etiology” (who gets the disease)
  • “Pathophysiology” (why the disease happens)
  • “Signs and Symptoms” (what brings them in)
  • “Diagnosis” (labs and imaging needed to confirm)
  • “Treatment”
  • “Complications”.

I spend about a week creating this document and then I print it. Everything typed is guaranteed to be from the lectures, which makes it easy to reference when I study. 

These are the books I use to supplement my notes as I go: 

  • PANCE Prep Pearls (the 2nd edition just came out and I love that sweet, sweet index). If you’re a PA student and you don’t own PPP, you’re doing something wrong. It’s like a super condensed version of everything you need to know. Great review before an exam, great way to highlight your own notes with the absolute most important stuff. 
     
  • Step-Up to Medicine (worth buying new to get the physical copy AND the eBook). I love this book, very well organized and just the right amount of depth. It’s technically a USMLE Step 2 Prep Book but it’s perfect clinical medicine! This book has more pathophysiology and epidemiology than PPP. 

Once my notes are printed, I go through with multiple pens and highlighters. I highlight the top of the slide based on its importance level on the NCCPA’s PANCE Blueprint. Then I handwrite in additional notes from the books I recommended above. They’re color-coded by source so I know where I got each piece from (everything typed is always from my professor’s notes, and then handwritten comes from Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment (the course text, in dark blue), Step Up (green), and PANCE Prep Pearls (pink). I usually don’t add any written notes from Patho Made Easy, but I do read it before a unit starts and again the night before an exam. This takes me about one full hardcore day of studying. Anywhere from 10-12 hours. I usually will take two or three days to do it, unless I’ve done a lot of procrastinating, and then I’ll sit down and do the entire thing in one day instead. 

I spend about a week creating the typed study guide, about a week adding notes, and then a week studying what I’ve created and taking practice exams. For practice exams, I like the following:

Lange Q&A Physician Assistant Examination. This technically goes with the course book, but there are a lot of mistakes in treatments and labs. It seems outdated for about 10% of the questions. For this reason, it’s usually the last test I take. It does have full explanations for each answer at the back of each section, though, and the added bonus that it’s a physical book. I like real paper. All of our exams are online, though, which brings me to my next recommendation: 

SmartyPANCE! I LOVE their practice tests. They are broken down by subject, so you can use them before an exam to see how you’re doing. It also has a review by subject with “pearls”. 

The other review site I recommend is HippoEd. Same thing, they have study materials and videos, and practice exams broken down by subject. I find them to be a little more challenging than SmartyPANCE and usually take these closer to the unit exam. 

Finally, a lot of people really like Rosh Review, but I consistently score 55-60% on every exam I make for myself, which is terrible for my self-esteem. I did not purchase after my free trial expired. Some of my classmates don’t mind the difficulty because of how amazing the answer breakdown is. I love that it tells you how you compared to other people taking the exams, so you can see, “Okay, well I got this wrong, but so did 72% of the other people” or “Well, I’m the only 1% that answered this question this way, so clearly I need work on this.” It’s helpful for sure, but like I said, proceed with caution in terms of confidence before an exam! 


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Hi all. Thanks for reading! I'm Jamie Murawski, a physician assistant student at the University of Detroit Mercy. I have a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University. I'm a Michigan girl through and through. 

I'm growing my online presence in the PA community through Reddit, where I moderate /r/prephysicianassistant along with some other pretty cool PA students. I also have an Instagram where I pseudo-blog about my journey (@jamienicole_pa.s). Please feel free to follow me or message me with any questions, I'm happy to help!

Accepted! - Jazmine (@jazminek_pa on Instagram)

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I'm so excited to share Jazmine's stats with you guys!  Jazmine has just recently started PA school at Western University, and she's been sharing all kinds of insight and amazing information on Instagram.  You can find her @jazminek_pa and she gives great updates, so follow along if you want to see what PA school is really like. Something interesting is Jazmine applied to PA school 3 times! She didn't give up, and now she's making her dream a reality.  Thanks for sharing with us Jazmine! 


Undergraduate education: University of Southern California

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Overall GPA: 3.43

Science GPA: 3.33

GRE: 305

Total PCE hours: 3200 (EMT, MA, ER Tech)

Shadowing hours: 608 (Orthopedics, Dermatology, Oncology/Hematology, Pulmonology and Pediatrics)

Other volunteer hours: 800 (Medical Mission to Africa, Skid Row, Spanish Translator, Elementary School Educator)

LORs: Orthopedic PA, MD, Anatomy Professor and Oncology/Hematology PA

How many times did you apply?:  Three cycles!

Age: 25

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 12 programs

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 5 interviews, 2 waitlist, 2 rejections, 3 acceptances!

Any red flags on your application? Low GPA

Anything you found surprising about interviews? At a few interviews, I was exhausted from the all day interview that included essays, one on one interviews, group interviews, MMI and medical terminology tests. I realized I rambled quite a bit at my first one so I practiced mock interviews for the upcoming ones.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? ThePAPlatform.com, How to Ace the PA School Interview book by Andrew Rodican, PA-C (affiliate link), DoseOfPA Blog, and PhysicianAssistantforum.com

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Seek advice from PAs and PA-S and ask many questions. Start on your patient care experience early on and retake prerequisites if your GPA is low like mine. Keep working at your passion, let the fire inside you burn brighter than the fire around you! 


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post, please email me at savanna@thePAplatform.com or comment below with your contact information.  

How To Get Married During Physician Assistant School

I question I'm sometimes asked about, and one I feel like people don't want to ask is how to handle relationships in PA school. It's not the easiest, but it can be done! I applied to PA school with a boyfriend, went in with a fiance, and came out a wife! I can't say that was necessarily encouraged, but it was important to me. 

I know this may not be of interest to some readers, but I think it's still important to address. PA school is very time intensive and can take a toll on relationships at any stage. It takes understanding on both sides to come out successful.  My particular program very strongly encouraged students to wait until after school to plan any big events like weddings.  At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be a PA, I wanted to marry my best friend. 

My (now) husband and I had been dating for 5 years at this point (yes, we met in high school), and we were going to both be in grad school.  If you've followed along for a while, you probably know that while I was in PA school, my husband was in medical school.  So double stress.

I lived at home with my parents for the first year and he had 2 roommates.  Basically the only time we saw each other was to study or grab a quick bite to eat.  Wedding planning was put on the back burner, and if it wasn't for my mom, I'm not sure what my wedding would have turned out like.  

All this to say, we made it work, and if you have concerns about being able to maintain a relationship or take the next step while in PA school, know that it's possible. My wedding was during the break between the spring and summer semester at the end of didactic year, and I had classmates who got married during clinical year.  Some even met their future spouses while in PA school! I'm always happy to answer questions about how I was able to make it work, and if you want to hear more about my story, check out the video below, or at this link.  

Advice From Current PA Students - From White Coat Dreaming

I recently connected with Alex on Instagram (@whitecoatdreaming), and she introduced me to her awesome PA blog - White Coat Dreaming. Apart from sharing her own awesome advice, Alex has also interviewed her fellow classmates in PA school to get their advice as well.  In this post, I'm going to share some of the best points to help you succeed in PA school! If you want to see more, make sure you head over to her blog to see the interviews in their entirety. 


Interview Tips:

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I think that schools like to see that you have other interests besides medicine and that you make time for the things you care about.  - Megan

I would really recommend going on a mission trip before PA school starts because it gives you an opportunity to learn more about the medical field and prepares you for PA school. Not to mention, it shows the interview committee that you are well rounded and more than just your grades. -Norin

Career change?  Be totally honest with yourself about who you are deep down, what you like, what all of your motivations are, whether you could get what it is you think you’re looking for while staying in your current spot or with a less drastic change. -Craig

The number one tip I can give you is to just be yourself! And I know that probably sounds super cliché, but it’s so true. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t try to put on an act, or memorize all the right answers to ace an interview or personal statement.
— Giftson from White Coat Dreaming

I didn’t do anything to practice so I just showed up thinking I could charm some people. And then they were tough and I bawled in my car after 2 or 3 of them. - Megan

I would truly recommend helping out the community as much as you can. During interviews, they look at more than just your grades. They want to see that you are a caring individual that does more than just study.  -Norin

There is a lot of competition for spots in PA school for good reasons, you’ve got to show that you are the cream of the crop and are a good bet for the school in terms of being able to one day be a skillful, practicing PA. -Craig 

It is so easy to compare to others and feel like you fall short, but it is so not true. We are all worth so much more than how we perform or measure up to the world’s standards. Finding my worth in Christ and knowing that He loves me no matter how small I feel was the biggest game changer. -Michelle


Applying Tips: 

Don’t get discouraged if you are waitlisted! I know plenty of people who were waitlisted and got in as late as April. -Megan

I took a year off before starting PA school because there were still some pre-requisites that I needed to complete and volunteer hours that I needed to add into my application. This really helped me focus on my application and make it stronger. -Norin

While getting into school and becoming a PA might seem like the most important thing in your life right now, don’t fall into the belief that whether you become a PA or not determines your value. You are so much more than your career! Work hard, but rest in the idea that you are going to end up exactly where you are meant to be. You are no more valuable as a PA or less valuable as something else! -Jill

Find yourself a good group of friends who will provide you with love, tissues and wine nights. They will be your backbone throughout the ‘process.’ - Alexa

People are afraid to major in something non traditional (like English, Poli Sci or philosophy), but I think it’s best to follow your own passions and interests. That will show that you are true to yourself, and are not just trying to do what you think you are ‘supposed’ to do.
— Erica from White Coat Dreaming

For me the hardest thing about applying was the cost.  - Erica

I’ve tried to make the best out of every situation. I know right now school is kind of rough, and you have to give up a lot of things that you used to have, but in the end it’ll all be worth it. -Giftson

 It is good to always have a plan B after you apply and focus on areas that you need to work on before you know if you got in that cycle or not! -Norin

The hardest part of applying was sorting through all the various requirements and prerequisites for each program. -Jill

Also, I would recommend a strong personal statement. It summarizes who you are as a person and your purpose for wanting to pursue medicine. Every part of the application is important, however, the personal statements gives them insight into your life so make sure it is strong. -Norin

I feel like location was a big factor in my decision. I knew I wanted to be in an area where I could still be around family, and having a support group nearby definitely influenced that decision but I also was excited to be out of my comfort zone. -Giftson

When the competition is so steep, you want to have as good of chances as you can, and applying to multiple programs is one way to do that! - Jill


PA School Tips: 

Know what you are getting into before you come to PA school. I was not mentally prepared for the amount of dedication that it would take to be a PA student, and it took me about 2-3 months to truly grasp how much my life was going to revolve around studying. - Erica

If your heart is not in it and this is not something you truly want to do, then stop yourself before it gets too late. PA school is hard, and honestly the pressures of the program is going to take a huge toll on you…physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If you’re not doing it for yourself, then you’re going to crack under pressure. - Giftson

Once you get accepted, stop trying to ‘better yourself’ academically or otherwise– and just relax and enjoy yourself, as much as logistically and financially possible. If you can take a vacation beforehand or some time off, definitely do- you will be so glad later. - Erica

PA school ends up taking all of your time, so you don’t really get a chance to think about how much time you’re not spending with family and friends.  -Giftson

I faced some of my darkest moments in PA school, because, surprise…it’s hard.  And the thing that kept me going above all else was having compassion for where these long nights of studying would take me.
— Silas from White Coat Dreaming

It helped to have a running schedule that I would try my best to stick to. That forced me to workout most days after class even when I didn’t feel like it. -Michelle

Being professional and acting in a way that shows respect to others is honestly far more important than the number of years you have under your belt. I was always worried that patients or even other classmates wouldn’t take me seriously because I was so young, but over time I’ve learned not to worry about things I can’t change. -Giftson

Also, make efforts to stay balanced while in school. So many people seem to put everything aside for their grades- mental health, relationships, exercise, sleep– but those things are necessary to be successful. -Erica

We all are starting at different parts of our life, and just because you don’t have experience doesn’t mean you can’t do well. You have to understand your limitations, and strive to push those limits every day! You’re going to make mistakes. Learn from them, and keep pushing forward so you can be the best PA you can be! -Giftson

I realized when I ate healthy, it definitely helped my energy level and helped me focus better and not get so tired studying. -Michelle

Self-doubt was a huge problem for me. I would always see other people that knew so much, and wonder if I would ever get there (still haven’t got there by the way). -Giftson

Sometimes it can be challenging when you compare and think how far ahead your kiddo classmates are in terms of being about to start their career when you would have still been waking up at noon on a Wednesday to go do a half-shift of bagging liquor- but hey, whatever path you take, you are bound to have learned something that someone on another path hasn’t. - Craig

You learn quickly that your classmates are in the trenches there with you, and you depend on each other far more than for just explaining a concept you didn’t understand in lecture.  -Silas

5 (More) Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting PA School

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A while back, I did a post for Brittany at PA Fanatic on 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting PA School.  When I was working on that article, I found it difficult to come up with only 5, so here are 5 more! 

  1. Don’t worry about loans, but be aware of them.

    For the majority of PA students, loans are a fact of life (unfortunately).  There's no need to dwell on your loans while you're in school because there's really nothing you can do about them at that time because most PA programs do not allow working while in school. And honestly, I think you would be crazy to try because PA school is a full time job. While you don't want to let your impending debt weigh on your shoulders too much, don't go crazy.  I had classmates who ate out for every single meal (using loan money), and then promptly bought a new car after PA school. If you've read my story, you'll know that I worked as hard as possible to pay off my loans after I graduated, but I also tried to be frugal throughout school.  Here's some tips to help you save money while in PA school! 
     
  2. Don’t be afraid of your teachers or preceptors

    The faculty of your program should be part of your support system.  Whether it's an advisor, teacher, director, or preceptor, find that person you can go to if you're struggling. And be honest about any challenges you may be facing.  If you're finding a particular section difficult or not sure how to study most effectively, ask for help! This goes for undergrad too. Your teachers and preceptors are the people who will be able to help you get a job in the future and they'll be your best references. I would frequently visit my advisor for advice or even just to decompress and talk about how stressed I was, and it was nice to talk to someone who had been there and understood what I was going through. You'll also want to keep in touch with these people after school. 
     
  3. Make time for yourself. 

    This is something I was terrible at when I first started PA school. I would go to school, study constantly, and basically never do anything else. I was living at home for the first year, and even if my parents asked me to go grab a quick dinner, I refused and stayed hoe to study. I was also supposed to be planning a wedding at that time. About halfway through didactic year, I loosened up a bit. I started going out to eat and doing some fun things (like going to see Taylor Swift with my classmates), and my grades actually improved while my stress decreased. The lesson I learned is that 30 extra minutes of studying when I'm tired or hungry won't make a huge impact on my grade. I also never read a book for fun while I was in PA school, and I love reading! Why did I do that?
     
  4. Be honest about what you want to do. 

    Somewhere during clinical year, I decided that to get a job, I needed to tell every preceptor that I wanted to work in their field. Basically, I was trying to suck up. In my heart, I knew that I had a passion for surgery or dermatology. Once I started being honest about that with my teachers and preceptors, I actually started hearing about the open jobs in the area and getting more valuable information that would actually help me find the job I wanted. If I could do it again, I would have taken this approach from the very beginning of school. 
     
  5. Always be professional. 

    I feel like this should go without saying, but as a PA student and future PA just always carry yourself in a way that exhibits professionalism.  Whether that's in class, on campus, when you're having fun on the weekends, or certainly on rotations. Just always keep in mind that you are representing your school and the PA profession. 
That's my girl Taylor Swift back there!  Last minute floor seats can't ever be passed up! 

That's my girl Taylor Swift back there!  Last minute floor seats can't ever be passed up! 

What tips do you wish you knew before starting PA school? Comment below to share! 

Guest Post from PA Cents: What is the 2017 Salary of a PA?

PA Cents is an awesome new blog about all of the financial stuff that comes along with being a physician assistant: salary, loans, debt, negotiations, and so much more. I'm reposting one of my favorite articles from the site today, which goes over everything you need to know about the current status of PA salaries.  And one of my posts was republished over there as well, so if you want to read about how I was able to pay off my PA school debt, check it out! 


A Breakdown of 2017 Physician Assistant Salary Reports

It’s a common question that everyone wants to know, whether you’re thinking about PA school, currently in a PA program or a practicing PA. How much do PAs Make? There are a few different sources for this information and each has it’s own benefits and drawbacks.

BLS Employment Statistics

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics is one source for salary information for all types of careers. They use data collected from employers on salary and benefits information. The data is collected over 2-3 years and is averaged. The salary includes incentive pay and production bonuses.

Per the Occupational Employment Statistics the mean annual wage for Physician Assistants from 2016 is $102,090; with the bottom 10% making $65,620 and the top 90% making $142,210.

The Good
As these surveys go out nationally and is done by the employer the information covers most PAs, which makes for a good sample size. The survey was for 104,050 PAs which would be almost all certified PAs. Not sure it is good or bad but the BLS reports is collected from employers and is not a self-report survey.

The Bad
Their is some delay in the data due to the time it takes to collect it. The data is averaged over a couple of years so it might not be the most up to date. Also, the salary is based on gross compensation so it combines both the base salary and bonus.

NCCPA Annual Report

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants is the certifying body for PAs and collects data through PA profiles. Of the 115,547 certified PAs, 109,592 provided responses for at least a portion of the profile. How this works is that if you are a certified PA and you log in to your profile on the website they ask you a number of questions about who you are and they collect this data to make the report. Some people probably have not answered all the questions or have only partially completed their profiles at the time the data was collected, however overall this a large sample size as it covers 94.8% of certified PAs. The data is collected by a rolling collection and is reported based on total gross income from all PA positions.

According to the NCCPA Annual Report the average salary for certified PAs was $104,131. With the highest median salary going to those in emergency medicine and dermatology with $115,000. The lowest median salary of $85,000 goes to those working in adolescent medicine, gynecology, ob/gyn and pediatrics.

The Good
If you’re a certified PA you most likely filled out the profile so this report covers most PAs, which provides for a very large sample size. It also provides data for the breakdown of salaries in different specialties.

The Bad
This report is not as comprehensive as other reports as far as salary goes. It does look at things like practice setting and specialty but as far as the break down of base salary, bonus and benefits it does not go in depth. Also, the data is collected in a rolling cycle so it might not be based on the most recent year’s salaries.

AAPA Salary Survey

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) is the national professional society for PAs. The AAPA advocates for  PAs and provides educational opportunities. It sends out an annual salary survey to all the members who have not opted out of communication from the AAPA. For the 2016 survey, it was sent out to 89,228 PAs and PA students with a total number of respondents of 15,999. The data is collected from the previous calendar year.

The median salary for the 2016 AAPA annual salary report was $97,000. Highest pay awarded to surgical sub-specialties and PAs working out west. The lowest going to PAs working in primary care and those in the Midwest. The 50th percentile for bonus amount was $5,000 for full-time PAs.

The Good
Of all the salary reports the AAPA salary survey is the most comprehensive. It breaks the data down by state and even shows data for the breakdown of benefits including time off, insurance, retirement, etc, so you can really see what other people are receiving and how others are getting paid. The data collected is from the prior year so it should be the most up to date. Also, it breaks it down from base salary and bonus and for full-time compared to part-time employment.

The Bad
The sample size is small and quite possibly the 75,000+ PAs who did not respond to the survey are the ones that are making so much money they don’t have time to respond to the survey. The survey is only available to AAPA members for free, non-members can purchase a copy.

Payscale.com

Payscale.com is another self-reporting survey. It has only 5,479 individuals who have reported on Physician Assistant salary. The data is collected through creating a personal report. When you go to the website you can get an individual salary report and in order to do this you must answer all the questions that pertain to yourself, including your salary and bonus.  The salary amount does not include bonus.

The median salary as of May 2017 was $91,402, with bonus ranging from $1,012 – $17,588.

The Good
Its the first thing that comes up when you google “physician assistant salary” (not sure that is a good thing or not). It breaks down salary to base salary and bonus.

The Bad
Very small sample size. Who knows when the data is from. They collect data from individual profiles so although it might be updated recently, the individual profiles are probably reflecting old salaries as I doubt most people are updating their payscale.com salaries annually.

The Bottom Line

From the 2017 salary reports we looked at, the average salary for 2017 is in the low $100,000 with a couple thousand difference (The reports are actually from the prior year but released in the current year, so 2017 data is collected in 2016 then the report is compiled and released in 2017). The AAPA and Payscale.com looked at base salary and bonus separately, where as the NCCPA and BLS reports looked at combined base salary and bonus.

The AAPA salary survey is by far the most comprehensive with that data that it provides but it is a smaller sample size. (Here’s my plug for doing the AAPA salary survey. If more members responded to the survey we would have better data. It does take some time but if you want help with negotiating its best if everyone takes part in it. Also, you need to be a member in order to participate so it is worth keeping up with your AAPA membership). To look at the survey it is free to members or you must pay a fee.

The Payscale.com report is the least valid as it has the smallest sample size and probably not very current. I wouldn’t recommend using the payscale.com number for anything more than a general idea of what PAs make.

Overall, PA salaries have been increasing over time and the outlook looks good for increased salaries in the future. I know compared to 5 years ago and after a job change my base salary has increased almost $20,000.

Salary Reports are helpful for anyone interested in the Physician Assistant Career. If you’re looking at becoming a PA you might be interested to know how much PAs make and above are some resources to look at.

If you’re a practicing PA or graduating soon you can use the salary information to help you negotiate a fare wage and you can use these salary reports to help you see what others are getting paid.

Don’t forget to comment below the original article and share with your friends!

Guest Post from Jamie - Letters of Recommendation: How Do You Ask? and How Do You Get a Good One?

I'm really excited to share another post from Jamie with you, which was first published on Reddit.  This will shed some light on how to get a good letter of recommendation, which is so important for your PA school applications. You may remember her previous posts - The Unexpected Costs of Interviewing and Attending PA School and What's in My Medical Bag?


Hi all! I thought I'd do a post today, since I start my hardest semester next week and I might disappear for a little while. I've been seeing a lot of comments and posts about letters of recommendations. Please start here with the Wiki FAQ for LOR.

Now that you've read that (or skimmed pass the link to keep reading), we can talk about some more specific details.

One thing I did when asking for letters of recommendation was to mention a specific reason I was asking the person.
— Jamie

 

One thing I did when asking for letters of recommendation was to mention a specific reason I was asking the person. For example, I worked in the tutoring center as a chemistry tutor and was a crucial part of the development for our walk-in services. I was the first tutor hired, trained other tutors, opened the center most mornings, etc. So I asked my boss, a professor at our university, to write me a letter. But when I asked, I mentioned specifically, "You have been one of the biggest witnesses for my interpersonal skills, as well as my application of sciences. I was hoping you could speak about your experiences of those things with me. A strong letter of recommendation will be very important to my acceptance into PA school."

Notice how I didn't just ask for the letter, but mentioned something that I wanted her to talk about. It wasn't demanding, just gave her an understanding of why I wanted HER to be the one to write it. I'll paste her letter below, she sent it to me just recently so I could make this post!

Another example was my nurse supervisor. She is an RN and supervises each shift. She sees how things go on the floor and facilitates the flow of the shift. I had asked her to write my letter because she sees how I work in a team with the other CNAs and the nurses. She has asked me to train people, and I am the one she would go-to for greeting a new admission because she loved how bubbly I was. I asked her to specifically mention how personable and friendly I am, as well as my teamwork.

It is important that when you do this, you are not demanding. You do not want the person to think that they HAVE to talk about what you mentioned. But this will help them to write a more specific letter. Anyone can receive a generic letter of recommendation. "Jamie has good communication skills" is completely different than "Jamie also stands out as an excellent communicator. She is personable and approachable, and students feel comfortable asking her questions. Additionally, she is adept at communicating with both her peers and chemistry faculty members."

And with that, here's my letter of recommendation from my boss at the tutoring center.

May 11, 2015

To Whom It May Concern,

It is my pleasure to submit this letter of recommendation for Ms. JamieNicole3x. I direct the Chemistry Success Center (CSC) at [University], a center that provides free walk-in chemistry tutoring services. Jamie works as a tutor in the CSC, and I have been her supervisor since August 2014. Scientific knowledge is a prerequisite for employment as a tutor, and Jamie demonstrates an excellent understanding of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. However, the traits that make Jamie stand out as a truly exceptional tutor extend far beyond her strong scientific background. In the ten months I have known Jamie, I have been greatly impressed by her professionalism, communication skills, and initiative.

Jamie consistently demonstrates an incredible level of professionalism. Jamie is, without a doubt, the most dependable and responsible student I have had the privilege of supervising. She is punctual and responds to all communications quickly and professionally. This past semester, Jamie opened the CSC two days per week. I typically stop by the CSC every morning to make sure things are set up and running smoothly. However, I quickly realized that I did not need to check in on the CSC on days when Jamie opened the center – I could rely on her to get things done correctly.

Jamie also stands out as an excellent communicator. She is personable and approachable, and students feel comfortable asking her questions. Additionally, she is adept at communicating with both her peers and chemistry faculty members. She manages to connect with people through humor, excellent listening skills, and a positive demeanor, all while maintaining appropriate professional boundaries. Students appreciate Jamie’s strong communication skills, and she consistently receives praise on student evaluations for her ability to explain things clearly.

Finally, I would be amiss not to mention Jamie’s initiative. Jamie excels at recognizing where help is needed, and never hesitates to deliver needed assistance. Whether it’s stepping in to help when another tutor needs support in dealing with a difficult student or taking the time to organize CSC resources, Jamie always pitches in to help without being asked. She truly leads by positive example.

I am confident that JamieNicole3x possesses the personal characteristics and academic preparation needed to succeed in a physician assistant graduate program. I recommend her for admission to your program without reservation.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need additional information.

Best wishes,

[Name Removed]

Affiliate Professor of Chemistry


Hi all. Thanks for reading! I'm Jamie Murawski, a physician assistant student at the University of Detroit Mercy. I have a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University. I'm a Michigan girl through and through. 

I'm growing my online presence in the PA community through Reddit, where I moderate /r/prephysicianassistant along with some other pretty cool PA students. I also have an Instagram where I pseudo-blog about my journey (@jamienicole_pa.s). Please feel free to follow me or message me with any questions, I'm happy to help!

Hey there! Check me out over here!

As I've shared in the past, I'm a H.I.P Ambassador for Medelita, which is a medical apparel company that was actually started by a PA!  Part of being a member of that community includes contributing to the Medelita blog. 

If you've been following me for a while, you know that I went on a medical mission trip to Kenya previously this year. The post I wrote for Medelita is titled "What I've Learned From International Medical Missions."  So if that's an area you're interested in, make sure you check it out!  They have a great blog, and you'll find some other posts from some of the PA students who have done guest posts here as well. 

Guest Post from Jamie - What's in my Medical Bag?

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I'm really excited to share this post today from Jamie, which was first published on Reddit.  It does contain some affiliate links, which means if you purchase any of the products from Amazon, Jamie will get a small cut. You may remember her previous post - The Unexpected Costs of Interviewing and Attending PA School

What’s in my medical bag?

Firstly, I carry two bags. The salmon colored bag is a little backpack by Dickies and the black bag is actually a diaper bag from Eddie Bauer. The Dickies bag was ~$23 at Sears and the Eddie Bauer bag was $39.99 at Target, but I used a 10% off coupon. On the outside of the backpack, I have a hand sanitizer (just Purell). I also carry a water bottle (Contigo brand because I hate having to bite the straw) and an umbrella. Because it’s a diaper bag, these pockets are actually insulated, which I think is funny, but awesome.

I don’t actually plan to carry both bags every day. I just don’t carry a purse and the med bag has stuff that I don’t really need on days like today or Wednesday when I only have one lecture. I do need the med bag on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though.

LET’S DIVE IN!

Medical Bag: Front Pocket(s) from left to right

Medical Bag: Inside View of Main Pocket

Laid out so you can see contents left to right

I am horrendously guilty of forgetting to put on deodorant, so I keep a little one in my bag along with some Kleenex!!

Backpack Front Pocket

Backpack Main Pocket

  • Microsoft Surface 3, 128GB Internal Storage, 4GB RAM ($399.99 from Best Buy) – this for me is an absolute MUST. It is lightweight, so I can carry it easily in my bag, it can be charged with an external USB power bank if the classroom doesn’t have outlets on the table, and it has the full functional Windows 10 operating system, including Microsoft Office. I live by OneNote for my notes. I use the cloud to store everything (with hard backups, of course), but it’s SO nice to be able to pull up my lectures from my phone or tablet, or my laptop at home. I can’t suggest this enough. I just hate that you have to buy the keyboard separate, and $400 is the cheapest I’ve ever seen it. I’ve had a Surface since the initial RT, though, and I’m a fan.
  • Microsoft Surface Type Cover - $116
  • Microsoft Surface Pen - $44.72 – I love this puppy, but you don’t need it if you prefer typing. I like being able to handwrite things easily, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
  • Tablet sleeve - $14.99
  • Bare Bones Anatomy textbook by Dr. Tracey Bee - $213
  • Flashcards for Unit 1: Intro and Back (came with textbook)
  • Folder - $1
  • Planner (MY LIFE) - $10
  • Pencil case - $1
  • Pilot G2 Pens - $10
  • Chargers, extra headphones
  • Glasses

And again, super forgetful with deodorant, so my backpack gets one, too – remember, I said I don’t always have both bags? And hey… sometimes I go to the gym… Also lip balms and a prescription topical steroid cream for my hands – I have contact dermatitis that gets bad with excess glove usage.

What’s in my pockets?? I just wore scrubs today, but this is the contents of my lab coat pockets!

  • Bath and Body Works lotion - $3
  • Bath and Body Works hand sanitizer - $1.50
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Pilot pen
  • NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Antwerp - $6
  • $2 for possible snacking needs
  • My locker combination

Not pictured:

  • Lab goggles - $1
  • Lunch: turkey sandwich, peppers and carrots with hummus, grapes, cantaloupe, and strawberries, Goldfish crackers.

Grand total: roughly $1600


Hi all. Thanks for reading! I'm Jamie Murawski, a physician assistant student at the University of Detroit Mercy. I have a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University. I'm a Michigan girl through and through. 

I'm growing my online presence in the PA community through Reddit, where I moderate /r/prephysicianassistant along with some other pretty cool PA students. I also have an Instagram where I pseudo-blog about my journey (@jamienicole_pa.s). Please feel free to follow me or message me with any questions, I'm happy to help!

Medelita + ERKA Stethoscope Review

While Medelita has become well-known for their scrubs and lab coats, they have more recently entered the medical equipment field. As a HIP Ambassador for Medelita, I was able to give their new stethoscope a try. 

Medelita teamed up with ERKA to create a high quality stethoscope that is an easy competitor for any well-known stethoscope.  ERKA originates from Germany and has been around for a long time.  They are well known for their stethoscope design and amazing functionality. 

Aesthetically, the ERKA stethoscope is so nice. There are tons of color choices to choose from including black, red, lime green, violet, ceil blue, pink, light blue, burgundy, dark green, navy blue, light grey, and rose pink. I went with the light grey because I wanted something neutral, and if you were to see my T-shirt drawer, you would find about 10 grey shirts (it's a problem). This stethoscope is very comfortable in the ears and easy to throw around your neck. They also come with a very nice storage case. 

There are 3 different types of stethoscopes available.  The Finesse2 is $100 and is equivalent to a Littmann Classic III. The Precise is $156 and is equivalent to a Littmann Cardiology IV. The Sensitive is $178 and is equivalent to a Littmann Master Cardiology, and this is the type that I chose because it's most similar to what I trained with. 

When it comes to sound quality, there's no doubt that the Medelita stethoscope is of the best quality. I don't use a stethoscope frequently in dermatology, so I sent this one with my husband to the hospital to try out.  He's an internal medicine resident, so it's important that he has a great stethoscope. He was impressed, and now it's uncommon for me to find that my stethoscope has gone "missing." 

Medelita always offers free shipping and free returns. For $20 off a purchase of $70 or more, use this link to set up your account, and use the code THEPAPLATFORM1 at checkout for an additional 15% off! There's also a 5-year warranty on these scopes. Let me know if you check them out!

Guest Post from Holly: How To Study and Succeed in Didactic Year of PA School

Holly has some awesome tips on how to survive didactic year of PA school.  If you thought getting into PA school was the hard part, you better get ready for the didactic portion.  This post is great for whether you are just getting ready to start school or already pushing through PA school. I agree with so many of these tips, and I experienced or learned a lot of this stuff myself in PA school. 


Congratulations! You’ve finally made it to didactic year of PA school (likely your ultimate dream, just as it was mine). It’s a HUGE accomplishment so be proud, but now it is also time to start working the hardest that you ever have academically (or at least learning in a fast-paced environment that I definitely had not experienced prior to PA school). Didactic year was definitely something I was absolutely terrified of when I first started the journey a year ago, but I am here to tell you that it is not impossible, and in fact, was one of the best years of my life! Being fresh out of didactic year, I’d like to provide some study tips I learned throughout my time as a PA student in the classroom. 

  • Don’t be afraid to completely change your study habits. Your previous study habits may or may not be as effective during your time as a PA student. This was something I was initially super resistant to (I always took hand written notes in all of my past college classes), but I quickly learned it was hugely beneficial to tailor my note taking to each individual class, and what I needed out of lectures in order to properly study and succeed in learning the material. Think about how you might best benefit during lecture for retaining the material long term. I used print out PowerPoint slides for Anatomy (they were all pictures, so I would bring a bunch of colored pens to color in what I was writing about and then write any additional notes about the structure we were discussing). In most of my classes, I realized it was most time efficient for me to type out notes on PowerPoints, and either study from them or create Word document study guides to print out. Pharmacology and Laboratory Medicine were 2 classes I struggled with, especially when only viewing the PowerPoints with my notes, so I made sure to create my own personal study guides for each of those, organize the material in a way that made sense to me, and would print out and write additional notes on my notes especially a few days prior to exams. Flash cards are also a great idea for subjects that require a lot of route memorization (Infectious Disease, for example). Figure out what works best for you, and constantly be willing to re-evaluate if that method is working well for you.
     
  • Work with others and study alone. This was another thing I was initially resistant to as a new PA student. In undergraduate classes, I never studied in groups because I assumed I wouldn’t be as productive. And it worked for me then, but I found it took way too much time to figure out everything on my own in PA school. I tested out quite a few study groups before I found the right group of people, but it was especially helpful to have a few classmates and friends to rapid-fire study. During finals, we usually had about 2 exams every day for 2 weeks straight, so even if we tried not to wait until the last minute, sometimes it was inevitable, and having others to quickly help me retain information and make me think about aspects I wouldn’t have on my own was extremely beneficial. Again, do what works for you, but definitely don’t be resistant to change if you have not tried a study technique in the past!
     
  • Use any mean of studying you can think of! Some examples include (but are certainly not limited to!) videos, audio, flashcards, study guides, charts, pictures, writing on chalk/white boards, sketching out images, and more. Really, use anything that will help you to retain the information and truly understand it on a fundamental level. Some of my favorite tools included Khan Academy, Online Med Ed, PANCE Prep Pearls (I highly recommend this book, even for didactic year! It is meant as a review for Boards, but I found it quite helpful for exam reviews and also for freshening up prior to OSCE’s and the PACKRAT exam), Physician Assistant Boards (I found both the Pharmacology and Boards Review audio files particularly helpful for my commutes, especially for solidifying information prior to exams), and the Physician Assistant Exam Review podcast. Many of my classmates shared groups on Quizlet so that we were able to use each other’s Quizlet online flashcards. Our class even had a shared DropBox where we would upload any helpful information or study guides we completed for the rest of the class to utilize. I found it super helpful to hear information over and over through multiple sources, and it has certainly helped me to retain a lot even after exams were finished. 
     
  • Connect the dots. I cannot emphasize this enough, but making connections between classes is super important. This helped me to not only better understand material in all of my classes (everything eventually starts to overlap!), land a pretty awesome PACKRAT score (the PA student exam that predicts how well you might do on the PANCE, or certifying PA exam), and helped me to feel much less stressed when it came to OSCE’s where we had to put all of the information together in order to diagnose and treat a hypothetical patient. It certainly shows if you are learning the material for life and not just for exams, especially at the end of didactic year when your professors will expect much more out of you. Don’t let yourself fall into a place of complacency – after all, as one of my favorite professors stated, “you are learning this for life and to keep your future patients alive”. It’s a pretty serious task, and I always want to make sure I am doing my best for my future patients. 
     
  • If you are losing speed and struggling to continue studying, change gears! This happened multiple times to me. Didactic year was a lot of studying. If I found myself losing focus or feeling burnt out, I would make sure to have some fun or reward myself to keep up my motivation. My friends and I often made trips in between classes or during day-long study sessions for coffee, cupcakes, chocolate, ice cream, you name it! Of course, it wasn’t the healthiest choice, but it kept us going and motivated to move on to more material. Another tip I can provide you with is to exercise! I didn’t do much exercising during my first 2 semesters, but at the beginning of my third semester, my friends and I decided it would be a great idea to attend work out classes twice a week through our school’s gym. It was actually a brilliant idea because we held each other accountable to attend every class, and we got in a great work out and felt mentally and physically refreshed afterward to continue studying if needed.
     
  • Know when you need help. This is probably the most important piece of advice, in my opinion. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are at, and you don’t want anything to get in your way of continuing through the program and becoming a future PA. Know your limitations and shortcomings, and realize when you need to ask a professor, advisor, classmate, friends, and/or family members for help. Didactic year is super challenging, mostly because of the amount of information they throw at you all at once, and because of the time constraints you might find yourself in because of your dedication to studying and passing your classes. Unfortunately, 2 of my classmates were disqualified from continuing the program due to poor academic performance, and from what I observed, both were too late in asking for help. If you see a classmate struggling, make sure you reach out if possible. Had I known these students were struggling, I definitely would have, but by the time they let me and other classmates of mine know that they needed help, it was too late to bring their grades up enough to pass. I personally struggled with Pharmacology and with my first Psychiatry exam. It was actually a double whammy because I failed both exams in the same week, and immediately went to both professors (one while I was in complete tears). Take your professors’ advice – they are there to help you and it certainly will only benefit you if you can obtain tips for how to succeed in their specific classes. I also let my friends know that these were 2 subjects I struggled with, and asked them for advice especially if they did well in the classes. I studied with classmates that were able to help me in these classes, while I was able to help them in other subjects, and it worked out really well. I also made sure to change up my study techniques to ways that helped me retain the information in a more efficient way, and was able to pass both classes with pretty decent grades! 
     
  • Know that you might not be perfect, and that is perfectly okay! I watched a few of my classmates strive for perfection, and sometimes it worked but other times it simply stressed them out more than they needed to be. I learned that even though I may not be the smartest person in the class, and certainly did not receive straight A’s by any means, I could still succeed in PA school and make sure I was learning everything I needed to along the way. My hard work paid off and was evident with my PACKRAT score, and if you keep motivated and work hard, I am positive you will succeed! 

Holly is a second-year PA student at Marywood University. Prior to attending PA school, Holly graduated from Temple University Honors Program in 2014 with a degree in Neuroscience and minor in Psychology. She then worked for two years as a mental health worker, direct service professional in an autism center, and as an emergency department scribe. You can find Holly on Instagram at @xohollyd and on her blog XOhollyd for more PA tips!

Up and Coming: South University (Richmond, VA)

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Location:  Richmond, VA

Number of students:  36

Application Cycle:  April 1st - September 1st through CASPA

Interview dates:  July-September

Start date:  January

Length of Program:  27 months

Public/Private: Private

HCE:  Recommended, but no specific requirement

GPA:  Minimum 3.0 overall; minimum Biology-Chemistry-Physics GPA of 3.0

Shadowing:  Recommended, but no specific requirement

The Good Stuff:

  • Quarter system
  • Working is not recommended, but allowed up to 15 hours during the didactic year
  • GRE is required, and preference is given to scores greater than the 50th percentile
  • Behavioral interview style
  • Pending accreditation September 2017

Program Link:  South University PA Program Website - Richmond, VA

Maevn Scrubs Review

You guys are probably getting tired of hearing about my favorite stuff, but I feel that part of my responsibility to is to make sure that you're well-dressed and look nice as you pursue your dreams.  So today, I would like to introduce you to Maevn Scrubs Eon Collection

I love that my daily uniform consists of scrubs, but sometimes I want to mix it up and try different ones. It's important to me that I'm comfortable, well-covered, and able to move easily. I also like my scrubs to fit well. One day I didn't have any clean scrubs, so I borrowed a pair of my husband's generic unisex ones, and I just felt a little frumpy all day. I went all out and did a video review of these scrubs, so if you want to see that, you can check it out at this link, or at the end of this post. (Fair warning - I'm so awkward.)

 

These 2 sets of Maevn scrubs were provided to me for free in exchange for my honest opinions. So let's go! Some of the links I've included to these scrubs on Amazon are affiliate links, which means I'll get a little bit of credit to buy more awesome scrubs if you use them. No pressure.  The Eon scrubs are interesting because they are made with special "COOLMAX" fabric that is supposed to keep you cool and dry, and also resist wrinkles and shrinkage. For reference, I'm around 5'1'' and 115 lbs. 

This first pair I got in navy since that's the color of my daily uniform. And since I've been seeing these fancy Eon waistband scrubs all over Instagram, I was pumped to try them out. After wearing these a few times to work and washing them a few times as well, I can honestly say they hold up to wear and tear. They have been christened with exploding cyst already, so we're good to go.

The top I'm wearing is the Sporty Mesh Panel Top in XS, and the color of these is "True Navy." This top has some mesh panels (that aren't see through) and lots of pockets. I do feel like it's a little bit long for me, but that hasn't stopped me from wearing them. I don't usually tuck my tops in, but I wanted to show off the cool waistband on these pants.  The pant style I'm wearing are the Waistband 7-Pocket Cargo Pant. I was told that these can run a little small and instructed to consider ordering up a size, so I'm wearing a small petite.  The length is perfect, and the size fits well too. These are very comfy with the waistband, and still have a drawstring, but also lots of pockets.

I do have to say that I love this color. It's almost a gray or slate blue version of navy, as opposed to being in the blue family. Even other people in my office commented on how nice the color looked and noticed that I had some new fancy scrubs. 

Now for the wine scrubs.  This color is my absolute favorite. I love it. If I got to choose a color to wear everyday, it would be wine (or maybe gray). The style of this top is the V-Neck Pocket Top in XS. The pants style is the Full Elastic Zipper Pocket Cargo Pant in XS Petite. These are a much more traditional style of scrubs, and the fit is true to size. Still tons of pockets too. Whenever I'm due for scrubs again, I'm planning on ordering this style in the navy color.  

Overall, I would definitely recommend these scrubs, and I do plan on getting more in the future. I may get my husband some of the men's versions to try out too! 

Comment below with your favorite scrubs! 

Guest Post from Shelby: How Research Helped Me Get Into PA School

Shelby is our gracious guest poster for today.  I'm really excited because she is able to offer a perspective on research experience that I can't give you, and I appreciate her honesty in the struggles she has had on her journey to becoming a PA. 


Since I was a child all I ever wanted was to become a healthcare provider. I did not realize the journey towards this goal of mine would be a bumpy path, but I am glad to have the experiences that came along with this untraditional path. They have shaped me to be prepared for Physician Assistant (PA) school. 

Standing out to get into PA school can be rather challenging. There are many applicants with great GPAs, tons of patient care experiences, and stellar GRE scores, but how do you shine in a sky full of north stars? 

Coming from a difficult period of my life in undergrad I sought out ways to improve my application because my GPA was not going to cut it to gain admittance. After graduating, I took courses post-bacc but I knew I wanted more. I had always thought research, teaching, and graduate level thinking would challenge me in a positive way. The following is just one way to standout that I found helpful and I hope this may also help others since each applicant’s journey is unique and they are unique themselves.

I chose to apply to a Masters of Science in Biomedical Sciences. The degree includes 3 quarters of didactic work followed by 4 quarters of research. When you complete the degree, you have a thesis manuscript, oral defense done, and many other opportunities if you choose not to proceed into medicine, but instead research. 

I had the option of taking a minimum of 12 credits per quarter, but I elected to take extra classes because I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I was ready for this challenge. I realize that at this level of education it was a slippery slope taking extra intense science classes, although in the end, it paid off for me.

One of my favorite courses I took, and excelled in, was pharmacology - a two quarter long class. It allowed me to apply my clinical knowledge and my enjoyment of physiology and pathophysiology. I tutor and work as a teaching assistant for the same course this year where I help run review sessions, create test questions, and am able to teach the students some of the material. Another class I thoroughly enjoyed, and was an extreme benefit, was taking physiology for two quarters. At my current school, the class is paired with the PA students so the same material they learn for their future, I got to learn alongside them. It was great exposure to what to expect in my future and I could excel at this course with the great teaching.

The classes I decided to take challenged me and I received a GPA I never thought I could obtain. But it has been the research experience which has shaped and challenged me more than I ever would have expected. My very first presentation was with my first principle investigator (PI). I had not done much public speaking before this, especially with something I was extremely passionate about. We had to do a 10-minute presentation on our proposed research project to the faculty, staff, and other students in my cohort.

I walked up to the podium, loaded my PowerPoint then proceeded to start the presentation, although I had massive anxiety attached right at the beginning. I started crying, breathing heavy, then just walked out of the presentation. My peers and some of the faculty thought I might not come back to finish the presentation. I had to calm down, and then decided to try again. I stuttered and barely made it through. It was traumatic and some peers were not very nice about it, both during and after my presentation.

The next time I did a presentation was with my current PI, yes I switched PI’s and projects. WOW! What a difference it was. I practiced word for word what I was going to say for a week. My PI spent hour upon hours with me to perfect it. Ultimately, it was a good presentation when said and done. I felt better about giving presentations, although this was mostly background about the project at that point, and then my next presentation was with data which made me more nervous. I walked into the room, and something did not feel right. I started out again with the shaky voice and teary eyes, but then I talked myself down. Earlier that week I found out I was accepted to PA school, and I realized I can do this and took a deep breath then nailed it. I was congratulated by multiple faculty with how impressed they were that I could come from being so nervous to jumping back in and doing so well. 

I changed research mentors in between my first and second year, which was rather challenging. I took on a whole new research project. I took extra classes, including anatomy with the occupational therapy students, and did very well.  Additionally, I gained positive encouragement as I gained confidence in my ability to give public presentations. I have achieved so many things since I started. I think one of the more important things is I grew to learn even more about myself. During my time, I have learned several laboratory techniques. There were days where I would cry, and days I would pat myself on the back. It is, and has been, a learning experience. For me, it's been important to have a research mentor who believed in me and who was there for me no matter what time of day. I am so grateful for what he's done for me this past year and I will be working on finishing my thesis in the fall before starting PA school in January at MCPHS.

You will make mistakes. Research is not easy, especially with a thesis project. It is a lot of hard work and dedication to go into the laboratory when you do not want to. But it has taught me how to be patient, pay attention to details, be a critical thinker, and enjoy being challenged. These will help me in more than just research, these are valuable things as a PA student and a PA-C. In healthcare, it’s extremely important to pay attention to details and to be able to think critically about your patient so you can provide the best care. There will be times you will be frustrated, but you should look at it analytically or take a step away for a while.   

Other aspects that have helped shaped who I am are having CrossFit. It has made me more mentally and physically fit. I highly suggest finding a good outlet like this. Any exercise can help you to manage your stress levels but find something that you truly enjoy. I always make sure to take care of myself as a priority before anything else because if you're not taking care of yourself, you're not going to be successful in all aspects of your life. 

Other aspects of my application that I feel helped me stand out was naturally creating a theme. My theme is oncology. I volunteered for three years at a pediatric oncology camp, I worked as a patient care technician in an oncology unit for almost two years, (I also worked other positions, but this one was my favorite), and my research is on non-small cell lung cancer. This shows how I have a strong interested in pursuing oncology as a profession. 

My biggest piece of advice is to never give up. There is not one path that will work for everyone or a normal path. You must make it work for you. I had many setbacks from my health, personal life, family, and finances, but this did not stop me from living the dream of attending PA school. Life is a continuous learning process, but make it an enjoyable one. 

It's a lot of hard work and if you ever need advice about how to study better and change your methods, feel free to reach out because I learned a lot along the way and it's helped me be more successful. It's a lot of trial and error frankly. 

I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone because that's what drove me to be better. It is important to have a strong support system, and if you don't, you need to believe in yourself. I cannot stress that enough because you are the one that's going to get you through each day. You need to show yourself that you are worthy, you are important, and you're a rockstar. 


Shelby will be graduating from Midwestern University with her Masters in Biomedical Sciences this fall and will be attending Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for PA school in January. Her biggest passions revolve around CrossFit, coffee, being a dog mom, and giving back. Feel free to follow her journey through PA school and beyond. Instagram: @student_shelby 

Medelita M3 Ellody Lab Coat Review

I'm really excited to announce that I am now a HIP Ambassador for Medelita.  That means that I get to share all of their awesome products with you, and tell you more about why I love them so much. One of my favorite things about Medelita is that it was started by a physician assistant! I love fellow PA-preneurs, and it's really cool to see the impact that Lara Francisco has been able to make in creating high quality medical wear. She took the idea of seeing a problem and finding a solution to the next level. 

In this particular review, I'm wearing a Medelita M3 Ellody Petite Fit Lab Coat. For reference, I am around 5'1'' and I'm wearing a size 2.  In normal clothing, I usually wear a 0-2/XS or Small, and I've found that these run very true to size, and that the size chart provided is accurate. 

When I first graduated from PA school, I was so excited to also graduate from my short coat to my long coat.  It's a sort of rite of passage. I was also extremely eager. I visited the local scrub store, looked at the 2 options available, and picked the one that was the better of the 2.  I can't say I was super impressed with the quality, but at the time it didn't matter that much to me. I was a PA! 

Once I started working, I noticed that my supervising physician's coat was a nice, crisp white and just looked a little better than mine.  After a few washes and a couple of months, my white coat was starting to look a little dingy and the already thin fabric was just getting thinner and thinner.  I asked her about it, and she said it was by a brand called Medelita

I looked further into Medelita, and I knew I was ready for an upgrade.  I was a little nervous about ordering a coat without trying it on, and since it would be embroidered, I wouldn't be able to return it. I used the size charts, took some measurements, and took the plunge. Best decision ever.  

It's important that your first impression with patients is a good one, and usually that comes from your appearance. I know that I tend to look young for my age (because my patients tell me everyday), so it's even more important for me to look professional.  Your white coat can do that. It lets the patient know what your role is, and gives confidence that you are there to take care of them.  Or it makes pediatric patients cry, but usually it's the opposite effect. Even if I see a new patient, when I walk in with my white coat on, they instantly know who their provider is. 

When I received my white coat, I was so excited. The fabric that Medelita has crafted is so nice. It's thick, bright white, and actually repels liquids, which is nice in a field like dermatology (think Dr. Pimple Popper).  The Ellody coat is perfect for me because it is a petite fit designed for women under 5'4'' and has a great tailored fit.  But if you are blessed with height or a guy, there are options for you too!  Medelita has many different designs and styles, so you should be able to find something to suit you.  My husband (internal medicine resident) is still jealous that my coat looks better than his, so I may end up having to get him one too. 

On these coats there are plenty of pockets to hold any equipment you may use on a daily basis, and the pockets are large enough for an iPad. There's no need to dry clean, and even after many washes, my coats have maintained their fresh white appearance, and the embroidery hasn't faded at all. These coats may be a little more pricey than some other options, but I can guarantee you'll be happier with the quality and durability.  The current options range from $128-162, but be on the lookout for discount codes by signing up for the Medelita email list or checking their Instagram. 

For $20 off a purchase of $70 or more, use this link to set up your account, and use the code THEPAPLATFORM1 at checkout for an additional 15% off! 

Medelita offers embroidery on their lab coats and scrubs.  There's the option of 2 lines of print, and 3 different fonts and 18 colors available. It costs an additional $12 or is free for orders over $175. There's also an option of having a logo uploaded on the right side of the coat. 

This coat was provided to me for review, but I can honestly say that I have been a customer with Medelita for a while, and I don't see that relationship ended for a long time. I will never recommend anything that I don't fully endorse and that I wouldn't pay for, and I can promise you will not regret your decision of purchasing a Medelita white coat. 

Guest Post from Jamie - The Unexpected Expenses of Interviewing and Attending PA School

This post was originally posted by Jamie on Reddit, but has been published here with her permission.  I'm really excited to introduce you guys to Jamie.  If you haven't ever heard of Reddit, you're missing out!  The prephysicianassistant sub-Reddit is awesome and a great place to get questions answered.  And FYI, some of the links in this post are affiliate links with Amazon, which means Jamie gets a couple of cents if you buy something, you don't pay more, and we can keep giving you awesome information for free! 

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The Hidden Costs for Physician Assistant School

I wanted to write a post about expenses because a lot of this stuff caught me by surprise. Please keep in mind while reading this that these are expenses specific to my experience and my university. I imagine many of them will be pretty universal, but some may differ by school.

A few that are universal about interviewing:

  • Purchasing your interview outfit. You need to dress professional – that means a full suit for men, and either a business dress (sheath dress, or something similar) with a blazer (think Claire Underwood from House of Cards), pencil skirt with a matching blazer, or pantsuit for women. If your interview is over the course of two days, inquire to your program about the attire. Your actual interview day will always be professional, but you may be able to get away with business casual, or even casual on the meet and greet day. Regardless, you can’t wear the same professional outfit both days, so you need at least two nice shirts.
  • Cleaning up before the interview. For example, I got my hair cut because my hair was kind of crazy looking. Looking clean and put together will give a good first impression. I’d love to live in a society where we aren’t judged by our appearance, but we don’t, and you have to look nice. You just need to look somewhat put together, but even a $12 haircut will add a bit to your interview costs!
  • Potential hotels or transportations: maybe you need to fly to the schools you applied for, maybe you need to stay in a hotel.
  • Days off work: if the interview falls on a day you usually work, you will have to miss a day of pay. While that doesn’t literally cost you any money, it does take away a day from your paycheck. Consider switching shifts with someone if that makes a big difference in your budget for the week or month.

A few that are universal (probably) regarding school itself, once you’re accepted:

Vaccinations: Hep B is the only one you can decline at UDM. Others are required: rubella, measles, mumps, varicella. For UDM, you must have titers done to prove that you are immune to each. It’s probably smart for them to do that because I had vaccination records of Hep B and rubella/MMR, but my titers came back negative. I had to re-do those.

Physical: Typical physical + Tdap and TB test (If your TB test is positive, you then have to follow up with a chest x-ray or you can ask your primary care provider for a blood-based TB test instead)

Dress code: Some programs require a specific scrub color or require only professional attire - if you have to buy either of those, that will cost you a decent amount, especially for nice dress clothes. Definitely check out Marshall's or TJMaxx if you're on a budget. My favorite dress clothes come from Express, but I wait until there are sales and I have a coupon. Thankfully I'm able to wear any color scrubs, and I have a ton from being a CNA!

Equipment: (Do not buy these based on this post, but wait until you get a list of requirements from your program! Yours may differ or they may require specific brands or something. Just gives you an idea of what to expect.)

  • You will absolutely need a stethoscope. A nice Littmann Cardiology III runs about $150, a little more if you engrave it or something, a little less if Amazon has some sort of sale or you pick an ugly color that no one buys.  You can absolutely buy a cheaper one or a more expensive brands, but this is the most recommended by the MDs and PAs that I have spoken to, both in real life and online. I love mine, it’s my favorite color and it was engraved with “Jamie Nicole”.
  • Diagnostic kit: Otoscope/ophthalmoscope set. Welch Allyn comes highly recommended and is VERY expensive. Somewhere between $300-$1000 depending on the handle material and used/new condition. You could definitely buy a cheaper one from Amazon or something, but you won’t be able to see as well and may need to borrow a friend’s for exams (I’m on the fence about buying one).
  • Lab coat, probably. Sometimes 2. Usually embroidered with program name, your name, and PA-S or sometimes just student.
  • Pen light (okay, you can buy this one if it makes you happy, it costs like $2 – some other cheaper things are latex-free gloves if you have an allergy, tongue depressors, gauze pads, alcohol wipes)
  • Sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) – these aren’t too expensive and a lot of you probably already have one for some reason or another.

Some that might be unique to UDM, but may happen to you:

  • Fingerprinting (Michigan legislature changed RIGHT after I paid to be fingerprinted, and the State will no longer release finger print information with criminal records, so UDM dropped this requirement and half of us had already paid for it and had it done, so that sucked. Way to go to the procrastinators! Your program may not make you do this, or they may pay for it, or you may not have to do it at all).
  • Drug testing (You will absolutely have a drug test, but your program may pay to have it done instead of making you pay for it).
  • Criminal Background Check (same as drug testing, it varies by program who pays for it).

MISC

  • MOVING: If you get into a program away from home and need to move, you may need a wide variety of things! You might live with your mom now and need furniture for your first solo place. You might have a place already but need to rent a moving truck. You might have to buy all your friends pizza or beer or both for helping you assemble Ikea furniture.

Feel free to comment with anything I may have missed or things required for other programs!


Hi all. Thanks for reading! I'm Jamie Murawski, a physician assistant student at the University of Detroit Mercy. I have a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University. I'm a Michigan girl through and through. 

I'm growing my online presence in the PA community through Reddit, where I moderate /r/prephysicianassistant along with some other pretty cool PA students. I also have an Instagram where I pseudo-blog about my journey (@jamienicole_pa.s). Please feel free to follow me or message me with any questions, I'm happy to help!