Certification and recertification of physician associate – PA school advice
Have you been accepted into PA school for your physician assistant/physician associate certification/recertification?
Congratulations! You are one of the top 20% of applicants to make it this far. If that bit was tricky and you think it will be easy from now on, think again. Getting into PA (physician associate) school is one thing, but surviving it is another. The list is endless: long hours, late nights, hectic schedules, detailed preparations, and memorization and application of information during rotations. So let us agree that this will be one of the most challenging (and rewarding) phases of your life. For both certification and recertification of physician assistants/associates, knowing what to expect and how to prepare for what is to come makes the entire process easier. It helps you get through those two years. Here are four secrets to surviving PA school.
1. Get your life in order
You will have very little time for anything else once you start attending physician associate school for certification or recertification.
Take care of bills and insurance, and find a dog walker and reliable childcare. Most importantly, take some time off for yourself to focus on your passions before you shelf them for the next two years. Or take that holiday you have always wanted because you are not going anywhere for the next couple of years.
Get your housing situation in order. The closer you are to your PA school campus, the less time you will need to get there.
If you’ve not had a physical recently, get a physical exam before you check into PA school and ensure you are in the best of health to do your best.
2. Get your supplies and gear together – and save money
Becoming a physician associate/physician assistant is expensive. With PA school costing as much as $90,000, you can do well by saving as much money as possible. The more you save, the easier you will find it to pay off your physician assistant loans.
You don’t need the most expensive or even most sophisticated supplies and gear for a certification or recertification course. What you will need is stuff that works. For example, an ordinary stethoscope will work just as well as a sophisticated one. The difference is that a basic steth will cost much less and allow you to save money. Used or second-hand equipment is fine too, as long as it works.
You do not need to purchase every book; you can get your hands on your school’s online library resources to provide all the textbook information you need at more affordable rates. Plus, online sites like Pubmed and clinical databases like Lexicomp are available for free or at a reasonable price.
A board review book is a fantastic investment – not only does it highlight every disease, but it also helps you get used to PANCE and PANRE’s blueprints.
3. Prepare before every class
Absorbing four years of medical school information in two years is no joke, but that is what you will have to do for physician assistant certification. You will have information being fed to you at the speed of light, and you must grasp as much of that information as possible. Here are some ways you can do that:
Know what study method helps you best. Are you a visual, kinesthetic, or auditory learner? How do you retain information? Do you prefer flashcards to lectures? Do visual aids help you retain information?
Know the material beforehand. You will be allowed to ask questions during your physician associate certification and recertification classes. However, to do that, you must read the material ahead – even if it is just the evening before. Make a list of questions of any doubts that you might have, and do not hesitate to get this cleared during class.
4. Studying for PA – what you need to know
Studying to be a physician associate or physician assistant is very different from all your studies so far. Here are a few critical points to remember about making the most of PA school, whether you are at PA school for certification or recertification.
1. Having an overly competitive attitude in PA school can backfire. Making the best grades is not as important as concentrating on becoming a good physician associate.
2. PA school is all about memorization. However, that is useless unless you can apply everything you memorize when becoming a physician associate.
3. Medicine offers multiple ways to do things, and very rarely is there only one correct answer.
4. Rotations are critical to practice everything that you learn in theory.
5. Studying is essential even during the didactic year – especially from a PANCE and PANRE perspective.
6. The collaborative study is much more effective than studying alone.
PA school is hectic. You have four years of study to cram up in two years, but it will be worth it at the end of the day. However, getting to the end can be quite a task if you are not prepared for PA school and the hard work that comes with it. The four secrets mentioned here will help you get started on the right footing whether you are in PA school for certification or recertification of physician associates.
CME4Life provides engaging CME for physician associates through convenient packages and seminars. The CME products allow physician assistants to earn their CME credits, apply for their PANCE/PANRE, and help them in their clinical practice. All CME4Life products are created by clinicians and approved by the AAPA.