Friday, October 7, 2016

Want to make God laugh? Tell her your plans.

You know that old saying about how the mark of civilization or madness or intelligence or whatever is the ability to hold two competing ideas in mind at the same time and believe both? Well, I've been meaning to post about that. I've been pursuing this PA thing for four years now. Last year I applied to a few programs knowing I barely qualified but hoping they'd take me anyway (this did not work). This year, I applied to eight programs. Next year, I will be in PA school (plan A) or I will have passed the crossroads of Plan B.

I've already gotten a rejection from my top pick--and from a program I didn't even apply to. So, I've been wrestling with plan B and all its iterations: holding two certainties that can't coexist. B1 is to firmly believe I will be a PA, and I will keep gaining experience and keep taking classes until a program accepts me. B2 is to accept that I've given it a good run, and now it's time to go back to work where I'll get salary and insurance and retirement in a career that is acceptable but not as fulfilling.

The problem here is that I can't embrace one option while also pursuing the other. I'm not built that way. I don't think it means I want a PA career any less; it means I'm pragmatic about the odds of getting into this very competitive field. I'm sure there's a smattering of imposter syndrome too, some level of conviction that I really don't deserve to be there, or I can't really hack it, amidst all of those bright young students who surely grasp math and science much faster and better than I, who can survive on little sleep and much caffeine, who have done amazing things in this world.

But that is not the point today. Today I am over the moon that one of my top schools picked me--me! to interview. Plan A may just work out.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Big dreams, another year out

Two years ago I left my highly paid dysfunctional job to commit to being a PA. Well, I left to be a CNA and take more classes so I could apply to PA school. One year ago, I applied to five or six programs, knowing I met the minimum requirements, convinced that my amazing essay with my lifechanging story and my advanced age life experience would help me stand out from the charming young honor students. It did not. My top school regretted to inform me that 1500 bright, hopeful, driven people applied for just 50 seats. I assume those other applicants were bright, hopeful, and driven, because the application process is a bear.

This year, I'm much more humble, even with more experience and more hours studying. I've switched from CNA work to scribing for a PA in family practice. This new work has challenged and delighted me; I've learned diabetes, the disease, and about the million reasons people with diabetes can't just follow our list of recommendations and prescriptions. Medicine is about the individuals, their bodies and their quirks, more than the treatments we can offer. I like the variety of cases we see, and I love seeing patients come back. I love building relationships and working toward long-term wellness, or at least a measure of comfort. I've also learned how much I miss hands-on care. I miss feeding, bathing, and talking to my patients, who called me Tomato Lady because we talked about my garden all last summer.

It's surprisingly difficult to write essays answering such simple questions. Why do I want to to be a PA? It's like asking someone you love why they love you. Poor Cordelia, after all, was just as dumbstruck as I am. But of course PA schools are not foolish old kings, and my English degree is showing.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Old people say the darndest things

Sibyl, my patient with dementia, tenderly touches my face, "Oh, your eyes are red." She narrows her eyes, "Are you on drugs?"