This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Savanna…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? When did you graduate?
Savanna: My name is Savanna Perry, and I was born and raised in Georgia, and that’s where I continue to practice as a physician assistant in dermatology. I graduated with a Biology degree from the University of Georgia in 2012. Go Dawgs!
Accepted: Where did you attend PA school? When did you graduate?
Savanna: I graduated from PA school at Augusta University (formerly the Medical College of Georgia) in 2014. I went straight into PA school following undergrad.
Accepted: What inspired you to go to PA school? Did you always aspire to work in the medical field?
Savanna: I knew I wanted to work in healthcare from a young age after watching my sister go through some health issues and spending time in doctor’s offices and hospitals, but I wasn’t sure what profession would fit me best. During my freshman year of high school, I did a ton of research and some soul searching, and I kept coming back to physician assistant. After taking some time to shadow, I was hooked and I just kept pursuing it from there.
Accepted: What was one of the biggest challenges that you faced while applying? How did you overcome it?
Savanna: It’s really easy to feel like you’ll never actually make it and never get that acceptance. I was really tough on myself sometimes and that would just stress me out even more. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be to relax more and not be so anxious about things like chemistry. I think I would have been able to learn the material better and perform better on tests without that pressure from myself.
Accepted: You share your daily happenings on your Instagram, @thepaplatform! What made you want to share your journey with others in the community?
Savanna: A lot of people still don’t know what physician assistants are! They don’t really understand how PAs fit into healthcare and what we’re capable of doing. By sharing my experiences, it helps to raise awareness for PAs, and I like to encourage students who are on the Pre-PA path to keep pushing towards their goals.
Accepted: What do you find are a couple of people’s biggest misconceptions about what it’s like to be a PA?
Savanna: A lot of patients don’t understand what exactly a PA can do or what kind of training we have. I’ve had patients ask if I can write prescriptions or when I’ll be done with medical school because they have never seen a PA. Even though PAs have less training than physicians, we still have very extensive training and we’re able to do a lot of the same things, but the supervising physician is always available if needed.
Accepted: What is it really like to be a PA?
Savanna: In my job, it’s a lot of fun! I get to work with people that I enjoy and help my patients. Working in dermatology, I get to see results when my patients get better. I enjoy the level of autonomy I have, but I still have my supervising physician around to help me continue to learn. It can definitely be hard work at times, but I wouldn’t trade my job for anything.
Accepted: What are three things you wish you would have known before starting PA school?
1. It’s going to be very difficult! It wasn’t as much the material, as the amount of material. There’s a ton of stuff we’re trying to master in a short period of time.
2. Stick to your study methods. If you already know how you study best, PA school is not the time to switch it up and try something new. IF you find your study tactics don’t work, you may have to adjust, but find what works and don’t change it.
3. Have fun! Even though PA school is tough and rigorous, it’s still important to make friends and have fun. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable. Make the most of it while you’re there.
Accepted: Lastly, what are your future plans? Do you have any big goals for your future in medicine?
Savanna: I love my job in dermatology, and I hope to never have to leave it. I’m definitely going to continue writing my blog on The PA Platform and helping Pre-PA students by making sure they have the resources they need to be successful.
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• The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes, a free guide
• Andrea Benedict: Life as a Physician Assistant, a podcast episode
• 5 Tips for Acceptance to a Physician Assistant Program