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NP & PA Student Blog

Welcome to the PA/NP Universe!

Published August 14, 2013 12:51 PM by Caroline Pilgrim

This month, thousands of PA and NP students are just getting started on their journey. Most PA programs begin in June or August and many students are gearing up for the craziest two years of their career thus far. I am 2 years in and graduate in December and August is a great time to reflect on what I've learned so far and what I tell prospective students who have trepidation mixed with excitement on starting their higher education.

If I could have told just-starting-PA-school me a few things back in 2011, this is what I would've said:

  • Don't worry about grades. At all. Don't. I cannot emphasize this enough. As I job hunt, the only GPA requirements are from the CIA PA positions, which require a 3.5 in PA school. No other employer CARES what your grades are. You are not supposed to put your GPA on your resume at all. Care about learning.
  • Don't worry about loans. Yes, manage your money wisely, but you can't compromise your intense learning experience by worrying about your future debt. Be smart, but don't panic. You're in good company with thousands of PAs and NPs tackling their loans post-grad.
  • Volunteer! There are literally hundreds of new, exciting community service opportunities available just because you are a PA/NP student. Find a free clinic. Teach kids how to read. Find a shelter. Join a church and get to know some old people. Volunteering whenever I could in PA school has been the best choice over studying I could have made.
  • Go overseas. I'm about to go to Uganda next month on a global health rotation. Up to 25% of medical students volunteer abroad and we as PAs/NPs are falling behind. Many programs are just beginning to consider the global health rotation option. Pave the way for your program. Experience in the third world gives us cultural competence, compassion and insight into the blessings of our own health system.
  • Network. You can never ever know too many people. Always talk to your guest lecturers and remember their names. You will see them around on your clinicals. Always learn everyone's names at your clinical sites: nurses, techs and pharmacists. Be friendly. You never know the connection that will land you a great recommendation letter or job.
  • Take time to reflect and rest. Are you a writer, a talker, a musician, a runner? Staying refreshed will ultimately make the long days of learning and clinicals so much more productive. Good rest yields good work.

Good luck, PA/NP colleagues!


Caroline - I am a current NP student and interested in volunteering abroad.  Can you recommend any good websites or organizations to research trips?  thanks!

Cassandra, RN October 11, 2013 3:20 PM

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