Let’s Talk Didactic Year!

So PA school started!  How is it going to be? Let’s talk about Didactic year.

Didactic year: cramming 75% of medical school knowledge into 12 months, sounds like a good idea… right? Take a deep breath.  YOU CAN DO THIS (and we know this because we did it).

Most PA programs will start with an orientation for a week.  To be honest, orientation is daunting, and consists of long hours of listening to lectures that you know you aren’t going to be tested on while you are anxiously waiting jumping into medical knowledge.  On the flip side, it is somewhat exciting because you start to get to know your classmates very quickly and figure out whom you will mesh with.  Keep in mind, you won’t mesh with everyone, and that’s okay.  However, do your best not to NOT get along with someone.  You will be spending 5 days a week often 8+hours a day together in the same classroom for 12 months.  Don’t burn bridges or make things awkward.

Following orientation, there’s no rest for the wicked and you jump right into classes. Our first test was Wednesday in our 2nd week of classes after Labor Day weekend.  Within the first two weeks of class you will have found your study mates, and for us, it stayed that way for the rest of PA school.  Prior to each exam (which was weekly and often multiple times a week) we would meet in the morning prior to our first class and go over the topics to be tested on.  Someone would lead the discussion and everyone would jump in if there was anything important that wasn’t touched on. Picture1

One of the girls in our fab 5 would create a word document from our power points, which was easier to print out and take with us when we were studying outside the home.  We still have all of them saved and will use them for PANRE studying (OMG its only 8.5 years away from now).  One other tradition we picked up was “the power of hands” which is where we would put our hands together right before the start of each exam and make this incredibly awkward noise while looking each other in the eyes.  The only time we missed this tradition is if one of us was gone, which only happened twice in 2.5 years!Pictur1

Didactic year is NOT easy.  You cram, a lot.  There are days when you do not feel like you can possible learn everything you need to learn by the time you need to learn it.  There are lots of days where you will cry, over sleep or not sleep enough, lash out at loved ones, eat things you shouldn’t or not eat enough, feel bad about not studying, forget a birthday or special occasion, have to say no to things you want to say yes to, the list goes ON and ON.  We are not exaggerating.  For example.  The week of Emily’s first birthday in PA school, we had 7, we repeat 7, exams.  This happened multiple times during didactic year! But no matter the challenge, we ALL made it through without dying.  We may have gained some (a lot) of grey hair, a few more wrinkles, our weight fluctuated, our skin looked horrible, our loved ones didn’t understand and got angry, but nonetheless, we made it through and became PA-Cs.

Approx: 5:30 AM with Dunkin to the face 🙂


The number one question we get asked is, “How rigorous is PA school, really?”  Theres no bones about it, our answer is “somebody sedate us” and “it took years off of our life.”  Our biggest advice: develop friendships, rely on people and allow people to help you, establish your study routine and don’t get stressed if it doesn’t match up with everyone else’s.  You can’t get through PA school without a good support system.  Stay consistent. ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS. Work out and eat healthy but enjoy late night pizza from time to time.

See below for a peek at Barry U’s Didactic year schedule:


Barry University Didactic Year Schedule:

Semester 1: Anatomy with lab (no cadaver), PA Role, Physiology, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Neuro-anatomy, PBL (problem-based learning), and Physical Diagnosis.

Semester 2: Pathophysiology, Pharmacology 2, Physical Diagnosis 2, Trilogy (women’s health, pediatrics, geriatrics), Psychology,  PBL, Surgery, Spanish

Semester 3: Radiology, Pathophysiology 2, Pharmacology 3, Research in Community Health, Emergency Medicine, PBL, Physical Diagnosis 3, Spanish

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Our fab class of 2016!  (PS… How many blondes can you fit into a PA class?)

Let us know where you are all practicing these days or where you are attending PA school! 

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