Congratulations! If you are reading this, you likely have been accepted to PA school and are looking for what you should to prepare for PA school while you’re anxiously waiting for it to begin. There are definitely some things you can do before starting PA school to help you in the transition of starting PA school.
This was the same question I had too. I had 2 months off before I started PA school and wanted to try to get as ahead as possible. I didn’t know anyone closely that had recently been to PA school that I could ask if there was anything that I could do prior to beginning.
There are some things that I did before starting PA school that I am glad that I did and also things that I wish I would have done differently.
1. Make sure you have submitted everything your school needs from you
Once you have been accepted to PA school, there are likely other things that your school needs from you prior to starting. Sometimes a deposit is required to secure your seat in the class. Usually there are various pieces of paperwork (that are different for each school) requiring your information and signatures. Make sure that you have all of the needed paperwork completed as soon as possible to secure your spot in the class.
2. Apply for financial aid and scholarships
As soon as you can after being accepted, begin applying to scholarships. There are many big national scholarships that PA students can apply to, many of which you must be accepted to your PA school before even applying. You school may also have scholarships for PA students or health professionals in general. Apply to any scholarship you can, if you don’t apply you will have zero chance of getting it. As it gets closer to the start of school, apply for any financial aid that you might need, such as applying for grad student loans.
3. Do any required readings or assignments from your school
Your school may or may not require assignments prior to starting, but if they do, definitely take advantage of the time you have prior to school starting to do it. My school required us to study for a medical terminology test that we would take at the beginning of the school year. I believe we had some other small assignments here and there as well. It is good to get these things finished and out of the way before school starts.
4. Purchase any required materials or equipment
Depending on your program, you may need to purchase your medical equipment before school starts. They will likely give you a list of things you need to buy. Some of the things you buy might not have quick shipping, so ordering in advance can be beneficial to make sure that you have all of the right materials for your first day of class.
5. If you are moving to go to school, finish unpacking BEFORE classes start
I moved 10 hours away from home to go to PA school, so I had to find an apartment and move all of my stuff. Luckily, we were able to move more than a month in advance to have time to get everything unpacked and familiarize ourselves with the area before starting school. If you are moving before PA school, even if just to a new apartment in the same area, it is important to unpack everything so that you don’t have to worry about once you have started school and are worried about a billion other things.
6. Try to optimize your home life
This goes along with the previous point, but is also for everyone, even if you didn’t move. Life doesn’t stop when you start PA school, so make sure that you take care of things before school starts. Clean your house, find an easy cooking solution that will help you have quick easy meals while busy in school, and fix anything you’ve been putting off.
7. Create a positive study environment
You will be studying a lot in PA school, regardless of what program you are a part of. Creating a positive study environment before school starts can help make the transition to studying all the time more seamless. Whether you live alone, with friends, or with family, find a quiet area with a table or desk that is free from distractions so that you can study well. I made a corner of my studio apartment into my study area because it was right beside my window and I could look outside (which makes me happy) while studying.
8. Get any medical or dental appointments taken care of if you can
While things do happen and you may have to go to an appointment during the year, if you have any routine appointments coming up (like dental cleanings or your annual medical appointment) try to get that done before school starts as it is much harder to skip class or catch up on things you missed once school has started.
9. Travel or do fun stuff
I was told to do this prior to school started and I couldn’t believe that this was all I was supposed to do. I wasn’t thrilled with the answer and thought I should be doing more. However, it rings true. Once you start PA school, you will have much less time to do non-medical things you enjoy. Whether that is hanging out with your family, going to the beach, or shopping with friends. Not that you can’t do those things while in PA school, but you will have less time to do those things. So before starting PA school, fill your life with all of those happy things you enjoy doing.
10. Reach out to your future classmates
You may be nervous before starting PA school (I know I was!). Talking to your future classmates is a great way to both calm the nerves, but also get to know the people that you will be spending the next few years with! They likely have similar feelings to how you feel and it can be great to get to know them without the pressure of classes.
11. Brush up on topics that you have forgotten
If you feel that you really must study something before school starts, try to brush up on your basic anatomy and physiology. At the beginning of PA school, you will likely have a heavy emphasis on anatomy and physiology. If it has been a while since you reviewed basic anatomy and physiology, it may be a good idea to brush up on that so that you are better prepared when school starts. I feel that those in my PA class that did best in the first semesters of PA school had a good base knowledge of anatomy and physiology that helped them to be able to grasp the more complicated concepts you need to learn.
You may also like: How to Study in PA School
These are the things that I would recommend doing prior to starting PA school if you are able! All of these are not necessarily essential, but can help you start PA school on the top of your game and help you to be the best that you can be!
I hope that this helps you! Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!