Clinical Year

I’m not quite sure what was more of a celebration, finishing didactic year or finishing PA school.  Go out.  Celebrate.  Get ready for a new journey, you’re looking at 9-11 5 or 6 week rotations (something to that degree).  This will be the fastest year of your life.  You’re constantly on the go and switching gears and possibly moving every 5 weeks.

My desk buddy, Erin and me celebrating the end of didactic year 🎊🎉
My desk buddy, Erin and me celebrating the end of didactic year 🎊🎉 Erin works for an ortho spine group in Pittsburgh. Thankful for her always answering all of my questions and putting up with me 24/7 during didactic year!

For me, I had ZERO actual healthcare experience before going to PA school as my patient care hours were performed as a mental health therapist. Being in a hospital or other health care environment was like a fish out of water.  Learning the work flow, terminology, expectations–it took me a few rotations to be like “ok this is how this works”.

Below are the various rotations my program had us attend.  There are variations, but here are the basics:

  • Family Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • General Surgery
  • Women’s Health
  • Geriatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Elective

Tips for Success:

Yes, yes and yes.

Your answer to everything your preceptor asks you if you want to do is yes. Obviously, within reason–I’m not talking about ethics here.  I’m referencing “do you want to try this procedure?” “Do you want to stay and see this patient?” Yes and yes.  Take the opportunity to learn. Don’t get me wrong there were certain rotations I had that made me want to blow my brains out sitting around and not learning or seeing patients.  Not all preceptors or clinical sites are created equal.  But, if there is an opportunity to learn–take it.

All the Reading

Read about the types of diseases, treatments or procedures you saw that day.  Reading about it after you see it or do it will help solidify your knowledge.


This is especially true for your surgical rotation.  Which for most people is the longest day ever.  If you’re able and don’t know about a procedure, read about it and the anatomy associated with the procedure the night before.  I impressed attending surgeons more than once because I prepared.  mostly because I was scared to death of a surgeon yelling at me and calling me a moron.  Hey, fear drives people.

Ask for feedback

After my first few rotations and getting into the swing of things, on my first day I would give my preceptor a copy of my end or rotation evaluation and also ask them to give me continual feedback and not hesitate to criticize me.

EOR Exams

Gradually prepare for end of rotation exams.  Practice questions are great, and I also recommend following the NCCPA blueprint as you study to make sure you are covering all of the necessary topics for the PANCE. NCCPA Blueprint by organ system.


If your program gives you the opportunity to know what questions you missed, review them and look up the answers.

White Coat Ceremony 2014
White Coat Ceremony 2014. My friend Alicia and me. She now works in Women’s Health in San Diego and is one of the smartest people I know 🙂