Attending graduate school is often a chance to explore a new city - but it can also  come at the price of being on your own potentially for the first time. Evenings are often spent “facetiming” with family and friends during a small window between classes and bed. However, the small chats may not always fill the void. For many new students, the first month may be rough; trying to find new friends with limited time and homesickness may start to creep in.
 
But when twins Arianna Srinivasan ‘21PA and Amanda Srinivasan ‘21PA, arrived on campus in August to begin their journey in the University’s Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program, they each had a built-in best friend and family member combined in close proximity – which makes for a good support system.
 
We asked them the following questions to highlight their unique perspectives on their experiences during the first month of the program and time on campus:
 
Q: How did you come to the decision to attend Salus together?
 
Amanda:  Arianna and I were so excited the day we were accepted into Salus. We woke up early on a Thursday morning and Arianna told me to check my email. I saw my acceptance and then asked her if she got in. She screamed yes and I said, "I got in too!” It was so exciting to have the opportunity to continue our educational journey together like we have been doing for the last 18 years. We absolutely loved the interview process here and the facilities were top notch. But, the thing that really stood out to us was the kindness from the faculty in the program. The day before our interview, Donna Agnew, MSPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, director of the PA program, gave Arianna and myself a call. She apologized she wouldn't be able to meet us in person, but she was so kind while talking to her on the phone. I honestly thought I could hear her smiling while talking through the phone. When we arrived at Salus, the security guards welcomed us with a huge smile (yes, we even interviewed on the same day.) We then sat down and talked to John Fitzgerald III, DO, FACOG, associate director of the University’s PA program, to learn more about the program’s details. We then had our individual interviews. After the interviews, we went on tour with students and had the opportunity to ask them questions. The experience made me confident in my decision about attending Salus, and I also liked its proximity to Philly. 
 
Q: Did you both major in the same program while attending Ursinus College?

Arianna & Amanda: Yes, we were both biology majors.

Q: How was your first month at Salus?

Arianna: It has definitely been an adjustment from undergrad. Grad school definitely has a higher standard than undergrad does in the amount of material we are to learn and what we cover in classes. I definitely feel like I am drinking water from a fire hydrant with a straw, but I try to just take it week by week. I try to admire the good in each day and try to stay as calm as possible when I can. My family has been a huge support system for me during this transition period. 

Amanda: It has been an adjustment. It’s overwhelming, but I am still in a transition period. My best advice: take each day as it comes. Get eight hours of sleep. Exercise. Study effectively - using active learning (ask yourself questions, talk it out with others, etc.). Take frequent breaks. Be involved in anatomy lab. Don't feel like you need to know everything the first time it’s said. You have time to digest the material. Finally, there is support. The professors are willing to talk with you, there is  a tutoring service available (free of cost to you, and it also allows you to get input from  an upperclassmen). Also, work collaboratively with your classmates, as you will graduate with them.  

Q: What is your favorite part of Salus so far?

Arianna: The faculty has also made a huge impact on me. With every lecture, there is reassurance that even though this program is hard, they LOVE being PAs. It motivates me to get to where they are and to know that everything will be okay. I also enjoy being so close to the city right now.

Amanda:  The people - everyone has been very nice so far. I got hit in the face with a softball during orientation and everyone was so kind to me and really trying to help me out. 

Q: What is your favorite study/hide-away spot?

Arianna: I love to study in the study rooms located on the first floor of the Learning Resource Center (LRC).

Amanda: In the LRC, there is a back study room around the corner. I usually get to school around 8 a.m. whether I have class or not. If I don't have class, I go straight to that study room. I also like to go to the gym in between classes to get some steps in - aerobic exercise helps you process information. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about your program so far?

Arianna: I've really enjoyed the hands-on aspects such as anatomy lab. It really enforces what we have been learning in a real human body. It makes me excited to go out into the field. 

Amanda:  I really like that we have actual PAs teaching us. I can tell they are very happy with their decision to become PAs. I like having the experience to work on cadavers as it helps re-enforce what is taught in lecture. We have guest lecturers that come in and talk to us, which is really cool. Also, we get clinical experience in the first semester which includes going to the hospital and talking with real patients.  

Q: Have you always done things together?

Arianna: Yes. We are twins who also happen to have a lot of the same friends and interests but we do enjoy doing different things as well. I like to compare it to having a best friend that just so happened to have been in the womb with me. While we have taken the same major path in life, we have consciously participated in different clubs and organizations. We also have different interests in the fields of medicine. 

Q: Do you feel like being a twin at the same school in the same program has its perks?

Arianna: I completely believe it does. I have my best friend, moral support, family, and study partner all in one here right now. We are lucky we both love each other so much and have such a genuine friendship to be able to support one another through this process.

Amanda: Yes. It’s a built-in support system with someone who understands what you are going through. Also, I have an automatic study buddy. 

Q: What does your typical day look like?

Arianna: Having a sibling definitely keeps us motivated and accountable in this program. So far, we wake up at 7 a.m. and head to school to either study or attend class. We get an hour lunch break which gives our brains a rest and a chance to socialize with our new friends here. Then, we stay on campus in order to complete classes. We go back to the apartment, exercise and eat dinner. We like to come together again in order to finish up studying by about 9 p.m. After studying, we like to watch some TV and fall asleep by 10 p.m. in order to be refreshed for the next day. I am very happy I chose to attend this University because I definitely have been receiving a lot of support and the enthusiasm from my professors inspires me to get through this program.