I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently about what my journey was like up until the point of getting my acceptance letter to PA school. I also realized that I ask my clients (and patients) a lot of probing questions and there are a lot of things they don’t know about me! Not because I’m unwilling to share; but, mostly because I focus on other people in my work. Ok, enough chit-chat I’ll get down to it.
A brief background: I was pretty aimless academically in high school. I was not your traditional straight A valedictorian type. I worked hard and did above average; but, I don’t think anyone ever saw me as “smart”. My mind had other areas of foci. Mostly I was always an athlete first. My mom was super sick with cancer most of my childhood and I think it probably took more of my mind then I realized or would ever be willing to admit. I based college on where I would play softball and had no idea what in the hell I was doing when I went to college. All I knew was that I was getting away from home and that made me happy. Also that going to college was what everyone was supposed to do, so I did it.
If I had to do it over again, everything would be different. Maybe not high school, but college for sure. I would go to community college get whatever credits I could as cheap as possible. I would have vacated the mid-west ASAP. I wouldn’t have majored in psychology and I wouldn’t have gotten a master’s degree around the same concentration. WHAT WAS I THINKING. I was pretty hopeless and I think I suffered anywhere from a 4-7 year quarter life crisis.
So, there I go proceeding with about 120k in student debt and a lot of people in my life cocking their heads at me wondering what the hell I was doing. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing for the record. I was 24 years old working as a personal trainer and bartender. I knew about half way through my Master’s it wasn’t right for me, but decided to finish. What the hell was I doing?
When I was working as a personal trainer a worked with a lot of medical professionals. I talked to them a lot about what kind of work they did. It interested me, medicine always interested me. As cliche as it sounds I was obsessed with all the typical medical shows–ER and Grey’s Anatomy (by the way as truthful as it is don’t put this in your personal statement 🙂 One day, a friend of mine who I was training brought in a brochure about Chatham’s Physician Assistant program. I was like this is it. I want to do this. I sat down made a list of all the crap you guys know needs done to have a complete PA application, made a time line and never looked back.
I decided to stay in Pittsburgh if I could to avoid out of state tuition. Yea, I know good time to start worrying about that. I also wasn’t interested in up rooting my life at this point. So, I compiled a list of 5 schools wrote down all the classes, GRE, supplemental apps, letters of rec, etc that I needed–sent in my application to CASPA beginning of June, visited all the programs I was applying to, got an interview at Pitt, got accepted and the rest is history.
I realized not a lot of people agreed with my choice. Of course no one vocalized anything. But you can always tell when people think you’re bat shit crazy. People did. I didn’t particularly care. As for why I didn’t really have much academic confidence when I was younger I’m not really sure. The older I got and the more purpose I had in the science courses I was taking the better my performance became.
If you have a purpose you have a path. Don’t let barriers stop you or others disapproval–or seeming disapproval. Just bite the bullet and jump. I had a lot of reasons why I might not get an interview or get accepted. I’ve also talked to a lot of people who focus on this detail. Don’t let the don’ts come into your house and set up camp in your brain. Don’t go down the don’t rabbit hole. Remember you are unique and if you’re reading this you probably have your shit enough together to see how other people did it and that makes you a step ahead of a lot of people. Always give yourself credit. Smile. Be confident. I’m convinced anything can be accomplished with these simple statements. Good luck everyone!!