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Why are PA Students Stressed?


Stress during PA school is all too real.  I don’t think there was one student in my class who wasn’t stressed at one point or another.  What is it about PA school that stresses students?  One word: fear.

What do PA students fear?

Fear of failure.  Fear of ridicule.  Fear of not being good enough.

There is a false sense of belief that students who will be good in medicine are good from the start.  It is a misconception that if you fail an exam you are not smart enough.  This is completely false.  Everyone fails and everyone struggles.  If anyone tells you otherwise, they are either lying or are the exception to the rule.  Never, ever, compare yourself to others.  The only person you need to try and be better than, is yourself.

No one is born knowing medicine.  No one is born knowing how to communicate with patients.  Being able to effectively speak to patients takes practice.  This is a skill that you will develop with time, practice, and patience.

Rotations are especially scary because you will be dealing with actual lives.  These are not  hypothetical situations or test questions.  The treatment you will render can actually cause harm.  The fear of harming patients lives inside everyone and the unfortunate truth is that you might cause harm at one point in your career.  This doesn’t make you a failure and this doesn’t mean you should stop.

Being wrong is a part of the process.  You have to go through that awkward phase before you can get into practice.  As long as you learn from your mistakes and realize how to improve upon them, you will be successful.

So, how do we reduce the stress?  Realize that there are no shortcuts.  Realize that EVERY student goes through this and it is a part of the process.  It is a necessary evil that will make you better in the long run.  You have to experience these situations to build reference points.  It will be these experiences that you will be able to draw from when dealing with patients.

Don’t become frustrated.  Instead, embrace the process and try and free yourself from the outcome.  Don’t go in expecting certain results.  The journey is much more important then the end result.

Remember, “Success is a Journey, not a Destination”


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