#WCW - Ashley Kay, PA-S

Hi everyone!! I'm back with another #WCW feature. Meet Ashley Kay! She is currently in her 4th quarter in her didactic year in Physician Assistant school, and like myself, she is a fellow blogger and recently just launched her website at www.withashleykay.com. Her website provides valuable information for those who are embarking on this long journey to becoming PA-C and those who wish to pursue in the medicial field. She can also be found on Instagram at @withashleykay, where she periodically provides tips. 

Why did you choose to pursue a career as a physician assistant versus other careers in the medical field?
Originally when I was in search of what type of professional I wanted to become, I began taking pre-requisites for nursing classes. It wasn’t too far in to these courses when I discovered the Physician Assistant profession. The role of being a mid-level provider with the freedom to switch specialties seemed like a dream- and it soon became just that! From then on I switched my focus on the classes that would prepare me to be the best candidate for the PA programs I wanted to apply to. Becoming a provider was the most important aspect to me- improving the connection in patient-provider relationships without requiring going through the extra two years of medical school in addition to residency. Becoming a PA was no question once I researched the responsibilities & role they play in the team of providing healthcare. The rest is history!

What has been your biggest challenge thus far in PA school?
Managing relationships outside of class was really difficult in the first few months of PA school. They say “you don’t understand it unless you’re going through it” and I believe that to be very true. PA school has been the most challenging yet the most rewarding experience yet- however, it’s very hard to translate the level of time commitment and dedication to others outside of school. Though, I do have some very sweet & understanding family and friends who give so much grace to me while I’m committed to these years of learning.

What specialty do you plan on going into and why?
TBD! But I have a feeling pediatrics may be a top contender.

How do you prevent burnout and what advice do you give other PA students to prevent burnout?
I think it’s important to remember day in and day out that PA school is a very, very short period of life- yet, it’s such a vital part of life to be fully present in for our future patients!
On the same note, balance is also imperative to maintain. Whether you prefer working out, meditating, or just unwinding with an episode on Netflix-make sure to allow yourself time to unwind!

What study technique has been the most effective?
Personally, I’m a kinesthetic learner. This meaning that in order to retain information and learn the most efficiently I must be physically moving. This type of learning is different from those who learn best by re-listening to lectures or watching demonstrations. Since rewriting things can be time consuming, I try my best to listen the best I can during in class lectures & go over it at home with my whiteboard as soon as I can!

When applying to PA school, what was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was the standardized testing portion - the GRE. Growing up I always dreaded exams and had a mild anxiety when it came to testing- the GRE was no different & my scoring was a painful example of this. I took the GRE 3 times (which is not only very expensive; but that’s 6 hours of what seems like the worst form of torture possible!). Although my final score was about average to the application cycle requirements I felt as though it was the most challenging area to perform well!
However, if you’re anything like me- PA school will make testing less of a bear & more of an everyday occurrence. Because of that, test taking is just another skill PA school has refined throughout the process!

How did you obtain HCE hours?
In undergrad I worked nights and weekends as a Patient Care Tech (equivalent to a Certified Nursing Assistant) in a Pediatric After Hours clinic which was a part of the Pediatric Emergency Department.
After graduating with my degree in Health Science, I worked for a surgical tool company- although this didn’t apply toward my direct patient care hours- it was a great HCE.
Other direct patient care hours I used in my application were medical mission trips to Nicaragua and India.

What advice do you give pre-PA and current PA students to stay motivated?
There’s a saying my older brother would say to me growing up: “If it were easy everyone would be doing it” and I’ve kept this mindset as a driving force anytime doubt creeps in.
This meaning that striving to become a PA is expected to be hard, tough, and strenuous!
But if you know this is what you want to do & that this profession is your calling in life- then don’t let anything stand in your way! Not only will this profession allow you to save lives, but it will also allow you to use the unique God given gifts you already have to be a positive impact in someone else’s life, whether trivial or life-altering.

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