Paying the Price
This week marks the beginning of an end.
From now until finals in November, we will be subjected to at least three quizzes or exams, a practical or patient encounter, and a paper or presentation due each week. On top of that, our professors keep telling us it's only going to get more intense and to be prepared.
It's becoming increasingly obvious, as it did around this time last semester, that each and every one of us deals with our workload-induced anxiety in a different way. So far, I've seen everything from the visibly and vocally overwhelmed students to those who internalize their worries only to have their stress manifest through the body in the form of sickness, insomnia, panic attacks or stomach ulcers.
We all know that long-term stress is unhealthy, and even though we are only subjecting ourselves to this kind of fast-paced and demanding course load for a short period of time, we need to stop and ask: What price do we pay for constantly pushing ourselves to the limit? I'm not saying that working hard and getting good grades isn't important, but first and foremost comes one's health. Students need to know when to take a break, stop studying early to get a good night's rest, or even just do something they enjoyed doing before they started this crazy thing we call school. I feel like while we are in PA school, it's so easy to lose sight of anything other than becoming a PA, but you have to--once in awhile, for yourself. As much as I fall victim to becoming enveloped in school and only school, we have to know our own limits, whether physical or mental.
The key for us, even as we venture out into the workplace, is to find ways to efficiently relieve our stress. At my school, students can attend fitness classes, join a multitude of extracurricular activities or speak to a counselor. For all of us, whether it is doing something completely unrelated to school for an hour per day or, as my class often jokes, scheduling in some ‘mandatory fun,' there are many ways to keep a healthy mind and body throughout it all.