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 Andrea…
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Andrea: I’m from Athens, Pennsylvania. I was a Neuroscience major at the University of Delaware.
Accepted: Where did you attend PA school? When did you graduate?
Andrea: Lock Haven University. I graduated in 2008.
Accepted: When did you know that PA school was the career route you wanted to go?
Andrea: I knew in college when I started getting worried about committing to a specific specialty if I pursued medical school and residency. At that time I started to realize just how much I cherish flexibility.
Accepted: Looking back at the application process, what would you say was your greatest challenge? How would you advise other applicants who may be experiencing similar challenges?
Andrea: My greatest challenge during the admissions process was overcoming my fear of public speaking, which is essentially what you’re doing during an interview. I mean, this is a legit fear. We’re talking sweaty palms, irregular respirations, severe tachycardia, and near syncope. It’s no joke! I’m actually surprised I kept my composure during the interview. My best advice to others who share this same reaction is to watch Amy Cudd’s TED talk about body language. She gives a phenomenal presentation about power posing and the physiologic benefits of increasing your testosterone (thus lowering your cortisol) when these techniques are applied for two minutes. Genius! My second piece of advice is to invest in something tactile that you can keep in your hand, like a weighted fancy pen or a paperclip, something similar you can move around which allows your brain to concentrate on that and calm your nerves
Accepted: You have quite the Instagram following on your profile, Life as a Physician Assistant! What can readers find on your page?
Andrea: Authenticity. That’s one attribute that I pride myself on, whether I’m discussing the pros and cons of 12-hour shifts, PA school interviews, working night shift etc., is that I’m always going to fully disclose the good, bad, and ugly, even if it’s not politically correct or the generally accepted response. It’s better to be truthful and disliked than dishonest and loved.
Accepted: Can you share a little about #medthusiast? How did your clothing line come to fruition?
Andrea Oh goodness, you hit my weak spot. I could talk about merchandising, marketing, and apparel design for hours. Medthusiast came to fruition the same way each of my business ventures, like MEDtakeovers, came to fruition. An idea pops into my head, like, “Man, I wish there was an online store where I could totally nerd out and buy a bunch of medical-inspired apparel, mugs, accessories, etc.” Then I let that idea marinate for a few days and make a decision whether it’s plausible, and then if I truly embark on this new endeavor. If the decision is yes then I go all in and become completely engrossed. The rest is history. It’s such an amazing creative outlet.
Accepted: Lastly, as someone who has successfully gone through PA school and is now thriving in life, can you share a few words of wisdom for fellow students looking at taking the same track as you?
1. Be true to yourself and leave a job if it isn’t conducive to your personality. Most PAs learn this the hard way.
2. If you’re interested in pediatrics then find a way to gain as much pediatric experience as possible because you will be heavily outnumbered by pediatric NPs vying for the same position.
3. Always remember that your time is valuable. Forty hour work weeks quickly become 50 and 60 hour weeks once you factor in time spent charting, phone calls, billing, etc. Make sure you take those extra hours into account!
4. Finally, for pre-PA students interested in pursuing a career as a PA, I think the best thing you can do is beef up your healthcare experience. That experience is so vital during your PA school education as well as after graduation!
You can continue following Andrea’s story on Instagram (@lifeasapa), on her blog Life as a PA, on her YouTube channel and follow her on Twitter (@life_as_a_pa). Thank you Andrea for sharing your story with us, we wish you much success!
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Do you want to be featured in Accepted’s blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs, a free guide
• Andrea Benedict: Life as a Physician Assistant, a podcast episode
• How to Get Accepted to Physician Assistant (PA) Programs