Didactic Year of PA School | 5 Tips

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I can't believe I'm done with my first year (aka didactic year) of PA school! It went by so fast! I'm starting my clinical rotations in less than 1 week (exciting, but also nerve-wracking...eek!). I did very well in my didactic year, so I thought I would share some of the tips that helped me!

1.) Find your own groove. // Some of my classmates didn't study on the weekends (unless there was an exam on Monday). Others took one day off a week from studying. Don't try to do what everyone else is doing. Do what is best for you! Personally, I studied a little everyday for the most part. There were a couple rare weeks where we didn't have an exam, so I would take a break from studying then. This tip also applies to how you study. Some students like to make study guides. Others just study from their notes and PowerPoint slides. I started out trying to make study guides, but it ended up being too time-consuming for me. I ended up just studying the PowerPoint slides and my notes. Sometimes I used the Quizlet app as well.

PA school meme
This is literally what PA school feels like most of the time.
Source: Pinterest

2.) Share notes/study guides! // If you do make study guides, make sure to share them with your classmates! My class created a private Facebook group in the very beginning, so that we could share notes, study guides, etc. This is not a competition, so make sure to help out your fellow classmates!

3.) Get a planner. // Your schedule in PA school can become very hectic - between 2-3 exams every week mixed with lab practicals, H&P write-ups, and group projects. It is very important to manage your time well, whether you use a paper planner or the calendar on your iPhone. My program uses Google Calendar for our schedule, so I found it easiest to sync it to the calendar on my iPhone and Macbook. I started out using a paper planner, but it soon became an annoyance because I had to keep checking both the calendar on my iPhone and my planner.

4.) Pay attention during class! // My program required us to attend class everyday and many students didn't pay attention during certain classes because there was an exam later that day or the next day. I always tried to pay attention in class and take good notes because it made it so much easier when it came to studying for the exam. This way, it wasn't my first time seeing the material and I didn't have to waste time re-listening to the lecture!

5.) Take time for yourself. // Even though your schedule will be jam-packed, it is important to take some time for yourself so that you don't burn out. Some of my classmates would go to the gym during our lunch hour. If you don't like the gym, you could go for a walk or run outside. Or just take some time to do something you love. Sometimes I would take little study breaks to play my guitar, which definitely helped to relax me!

Is there anything else you want to know about didactic year of PA school? Leave a comment below!


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