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A day in the life of…A Physician’s Assistant Student
Perhaps one of the least populated and most demanding majors at Quinnipiac University, physician’s assistants students maintain a hectic class schedule coupled with clinical hours and considerable amounts of studying every day, simply in order to keep their heads above water.
Jennifer McDermott, one of only nine senior PA majors, upholds a busy schedule everyday, but Tuesdays are her craziest.
“I typically wake up around 8:30, skip breakfast, and go right to my cardio kickboxing class from 9:30-10:45,” McDermott said. “After that, I come home to shower and have a quick lunch before my next class.”
A “quick lunch” consists of a salad she throws together and eats while going over notes for abnormal psychology, which on this particular day she has a test in at 2 p.m.
Because of the test, McDermott gets let out earlier than usual, and uses the extra hour to head to the library to go over notes for her medical problem solving class, which starts at 3:30 p.m.
“The key to being a health science major is time management. You have to know how to keep up with your work. You can’t study for a test the night before and expect to do well,” McDermott said. Medical problem solving finishes at 4:45 p.m. and from there, McDermott has 15 minutes to get to her fourth and final class of the day, endocrinology.
When asked how she keeps motivated to get through four classes a day, McDermott said, “It’s definitely tough doing four Tuesday-Thursday classes because they’re longer, but it’s worth it because I have Mondays and Fridays off, which gives me a lot more free time. Being on campus all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays forces me to do my work instead of going back and forth to home.”
By 6:15 p.m., it’s time to head back home for dinner before she plans on recopying her endocrinology notes and looking into applying for a job at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
“Students in the physician’s assistant program are exposed to the field much earlier than those in other health fields. My favorite part of the program was our clinical rotations that we had during the spring semester of our sophomore and junior year. We’re assigned to practicing physician assistants, who we shadow for the semester,” McDermott said in between bites of her pasta dinner. “I’m thinking about applying to the hospital because I miss doing the clinical rotations. They really allowed me to get hands on experience, which I think is the most important aspect of this major.”
After dinner, McDermott allows herself a little bit of down time, settling down in front of the television to watch the previous evening’s episode of “Prison Break.”
Even while watching television, McDermott flips through her Endocrinology notes.
“I don’t really mind doing the work I have to do in order to keep my grades up, because I can balance it and have a social life at the same time. It’s a really gratifying feeling,” McDermott said.