Program Update: Graduation Nears

Posted By: Paul   |   School Life   |   17 Comments

As you can see from the graduation invitation above, we will complete our 2-year physician assistant school odyssey in just 12 days.  I have mixed feelings about it.

What’s Going Through My Head

  • How can it be over already — I don’t know everything yet.
  • Thank heaven it’s over; I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.
  • Now I can learn what I want to learn – sweet!
  • Man, oh man, am I going to miss all of my classmates.  We’ve become so tight going through all this. 
  • Where’s that old resume?
  • I wonder what specialties my classmates will go into.  For many of us it will be primary care, but for many it won’t.
  • Memories of some wicked good times.
  • Memories of some wicked stressful times.
  • Malpractice insurance?  Salary?  My own prescription pad?  Okay, that’s just weird.
  • What’s next?

What’s Left

For the final few weeks I’ll be doing two things: completing assignments (Yes, up to the bitter end, my friends), and (strangely) experiencing the specialty that I probably know best: psychiatry.  My psychiatric rotation will be at Mather VA Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Unit in Mather, CA.  I did my ER and Inpatient rotations there as well, so I’m familiar with the setting, the electronic medical record system, and even the patients.  My stay there will be short – just 10 days – but I’ve had plenty of the psych before, so I don’t mind it being so short.  I used to work as an EMT transporting psychiatric patients (Welfare and Institutions Code §5150‘s), and later as a “Crisis Specialist” at a large county hospital.   My job was interviewing and assessing patients who were experiencing a psychiatric crisis.  These were the much the same 5150 patients I had trucked around as an EMT, along with many voluntary patients who were depressed, psychotic, anxious, and suicidal, among other things.

Also, it’s my turn for a common PA student dilemma: what do you do when you rotate through a specialty with which you are familiar — and maybe even possess some skill — because of prior work experience?  Do you share this with your rotation preceptors?  I’ve chosen to remain mum about my past experience.  I figure it’s better to set their expectations low and surprise them than to set them high and disappoint.  Anyway, it should be a great experience at Mather.  I’ll keep you posted.

What’s Next For Inside PA Training?

I’ve had a number of readers ask me if I intend to continue publishing Inside PA Training, and the answer is an unequivocal YES.  I will continue to write about the education and training of physician assistants, and maybe even that of certified, licensed PAs.  The learning doesn’t stop when you graduate.  In fact, one of my big sibs at school was fond of saying that “The real learning starts when you graduate.”  In the near future, I’m hoping to delve deeper into the work and world of PAs, which should include (since I will have a little more time to devote to it) the IPAT smartphone App (stalled in development), more podcast episodes, more articles, an ebook, and maybe even another blog with a different emphasis. Yes, I’m busy, but I love what I do.

So as my mom used to say before finals, “It’s just one last push, honey.”  Only Mom could make labor pains into something to look forward to…[subscribe2]


  1. kenneth May 29, 2012 at 1:00 am - Reply

    CONGRATS man youve earned it!

  2. Brian Wallace May 29, 2012 at 5:44 am - Reply

    Congratulations! This is a very exciting and scary time. You may not know everything, but you never will. You will learn a ton in your first year of practice and most employers recognize that. As long as you keep up your work ethic and your integrity you will do great!

    One side note. I think it is best to keep previous job experience and knowledge quite while on a rotation. If it comes up great. If it gives you a chance to shine even better. No matter your experience no one trusts you until you earn it. Don’t ask them to trust you. Show them that you can be trusted.

    • Paul May 30, 2012 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      Interesting follow up:

      When I got to the psych department on day 1 of the rotation, my preceptor whom I had never met knew that I had mental health experience. “Who told you, I asked.” Her reply: “all your classmates.” Thankfully, she didn’t look down her nose at me at all, and was excited to have me. She put me straight to work assessing a crisis patient. That felt good, I’ll tell you… -P

  3. buffchic May 29, 2012 at 6:38 am - Reply

    Congrats, Paul! I’m excited for you.

  4. futurePA_1914 May 29, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Congratulations, Paul. Every time I read one of your blogs, I get all the more excited for PA school, and right now I’m looking into going to Duke University for school!

  5. Sandy May 29, 2012 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Congratulations! I’m just beginning my first year, so hopefully we all make it as far as you have.

  6. Stacy May 29, 2012 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Congrats, Paul!
    Good luck to you, your classmates, and the graduating class of 2012.
    Thank you for this blog, it’s been so helpful.


  7. Andi May 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Congrats to you and all of your fellow classmates!!!! 🙂

  8. Keith May 30, 2012 at 7:41 am - Reply

    Congrats! Thank you very much for the insite you have given the Pre-PA community. We have watched your journey and it is amazing. I am very excited start and congrats to you finishing school and doing what truely makes you happy.

    • Paul May 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much! It’s been all the more fun for being able to share it.

  9. Tena May 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Congrats! What an amazing achievement! This website has been so inspiring and informative. I have learned so much about being a part of a PA program through your experiences. Thank you for your dedication to this site. I look forward to your future experiences, as well as my own, hopefully.

  10. The PA Coach May 31, 2012 at 5:05 am - Reply

    Congrats Paul !!!

    It’s been fun and exciting watching you “Grow Up” in PA! You have helped so many by documenting your journey. I wish you well and much success.

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