Day in the Life: Second Year Physician Assistant Student

Toby Heller - PA StudentHi! My name is Toby Heller and I am a second year Physician Assistant (PA) student from Maryland. I completed my undergraduate degree in Movement Science at the University of Michigan. I always knew I loved the sciences and wanted to help others, but it wasn’t until a friend actually told me what a PA was that I fell in love with the career and never looked back! I started my first year of PA school directly after graduating from undergrad. My first year of PA school was filled with studying, exams, and more learning than I ever could have imagined!
 
Now, I am in my second year  – which means clinical rotations! This year is composed of 10 clinical rotations in different fields of the PA profession, including emergency medicine, family medicine, surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, mental health, and elective rotations! Each rotation is five weeks long, allowing us to really get a feel for what each specialty is like.
 
Each typical day really depends on the rotation – for example, some are in the hospital, some are in private practices, and each daily schedule varies. I really like having changing schedules and different clinical settings –having such a vast array of medical experiences helps me to grow as a PA student!
 
Right now, I am in my elective rotation, gastroenterology. I chose to do GI for my elective because I have always had a personal interest in the field. The clinical PA staff at Salus was able to find a GI rotation nearby!
 
Here is my typical day:
 
I usually wake up around 7:30 a.m. and get ready! This rotation requires I wear scrubs, which makes getting ready in the morning much quicker than picking out a business casual outfit (which I also enjoy wearing at some of my other rotations). I make my lunch the night before so I can quickly grab it on my way out.
 
Toby Heller - Day in the Life - Exam RoomI get to the office a little before 8:30 a.m., when the first patient will arrive, and talk to my preceptor about the patient coming in – their medical history, why they’re  coming in, etc. When the patient comes in, I go into the exam room with my preceptor – now, every rotation is different when it comes to patient interaction. At some of my rotations, I will go into the room before my preceptor and do an entire history and physical on my own. However, at this office, I do it with my preceptor!
 
We see patients all day, taking a break for lunch. I enjoy eating lunch with the other staff members and getting to know the different people within the office.
 
On Mondays, I actually have the opportunity to go downstairs to the colonoscopy and endoscopy center and watch procedures all day! The doctor downstairs does a great job of explaining everything that we see on the screens.
 
After the day of patients ends around 5:00 p.m.,  I try to do something for myself as a little break - usually I will go to a workout class. I also love to go grocery shopping for a “mental break” – I always find an excuse to go to Trader Joe’s.
 
As I am in my last week of this rotation, I look back and can’t believe how much I could learn is such a short fiveweeks! I will miss this rotation, but I am so excited for my next one too! Every rotation has an exam at the end, so usually I will study more and more as they approach. However, since I am in my elective rotation there is no exam, so I have a nice little break! I can’t wait to see what the next rotation brings!
 
Learn More About the Salus Physician Assistant Program