My name is Anna, and I am a mother of two boys, two and six years old.
I am also a PA student.
For me, it was a long and arduous journey to get into PA school. I applied three consecutive years before finally getting accepted to a PA school in San Antonio, which is about a 3-hour drive from where I live.
Although I was excited to be finally accepted, it was a difficult decision for my family and me because it meant I had to move out to San Antonio while my family stayed behind.
I knew it would be hard, but I could not lose this opportunity. I was one of the 45 students accepted out of 1,800 applicants, and I needed to figure out how to make it work.
I Couldn't do it Alone
My husband and my mom are very supportive, and I would not be able to do it without them.
My mom decided to move in with us and help us to take care of the kids. The most challenging part for me at the beginning was to help my mom and my husband to get along. They are both great, but it is hard for them to work well together because they both have unyielding personalities. However, it seems to be getting better so I can’t complain now.
I go home to see my children on the weekends and try to communicate on Skype almost every day. It has been six months since I started PA school and it has gone by really fast because I am so busy.
My 6-year-old was getting into trouble in school, and a couple of times I had to drive back and forth from San Antonio to be able to attend his class and the meetings with his teachers.
I used to overreact to his “bad behavior,” but it only made things worse. I don't like to feel like I have no control in raising my children, so sometimes I get too emotional. I appreciate it when my husband or my mom do exactly what I ask them to do regarding the kids because it makes me feel like I can contribute to their life the way I think is the best for them.
I know it sounds silly and not very reasonable, but I want to feel like I am still a big part of making decisions for my kids.
Finding Time to Study
I need my weekends to study so when I come home to see my family I try to spend one full day and night with them and then go back to studying.
I do miss my family and some weekends I cannot come to see them, especially when we have finals or too many tests at once. On these occasions, we found a bus that my mom can take and bring the kids with her. I love it when this happens because I get to see them and will not waste 6 hours driving back and forth when I can spend this time studying.
The PA program in San Antonio is far more advanced than I expected. I have never studied so hard in my life even though I have two degrees. We already had some people that had to leave the program because they did not make it through the first semester. I know I have to be diligent and manage my schedule the best I can.
I don't think I have a typical situation since I do not live with my family at the moment but I am sure there are people who are in my shoes or will be.
PA schools are very competitive, and it is becoming harder and harder to get in. Unfortunately, you will not always be accepted at the PA school of your choice (or maybe fortunately because I love my school now).
I think the benefit of my situation is that I can study at home anytime and not feel anxious to go home and see my kids every day since they are not here.
I do miss them and love them very much but I keep reminding myself of my goals and sacrifices. I explain to my 6-year-old son that I study now so I can help people to be healthier and so we can afford to travel.
He is excited about this and sometimes says he wants to go to my school instead of his.
Advice to PA School Parents
If I were to give advice to future PA school students with children, I would say stay focused on your main goal and know why you are doing this.
I do have my moments when I cry and get emotional but I talk to my kids, my husband, and my mom and they make me feel better. I remind myself that time goes by fast and I am pursuing my dream that will not only benefit me but my family and many other families in the future.
I would encourage you to connect with people in your class and make good friends. It has helped me to stay positive through difficult times. You have to develop an inner strength that will carry you through any personal problems and still allow you to focus on studying. Otherwise, it will not be possible to make it.
We have a great tradition in our school. The class that was before us assigned each one of the new students a “Big person.” They just matched one person with another one according to some similarities. My “Big” has two children, and they live with her. She was helpful and supportive throughout my first semester. She made me feel more "normal” on several occasions when I did not know what to do.
She gave me advice on how to cope with problems and how to best address my needs along with those of my family throughout PA school.
I have two more years to go, and I know they will go fast. I am enjoying my journey, but I can’t wait to go back to my family and be there with them and for them.
All I can say is to get your support system together, make sure you have reliable people who can help you throughout the whole program and you can make it through.
Best of luck pursuing your dreams!
Also, in case you were curious, I asked Anna about her mom, her husband's feelings about her moving to San Antonio to attend PA school and why they chose to live separately during her time as a student. Here is her answer:
I am originally from Ukraine and then lived in Houston since 2006. My mom was living in Ukraine and had to make a big move for me. I admire my mom. I do not think I could have been where I am today without her love and support. My husband's job keeps him in Houston so moving for him was out of the question.
My husband was supportive but very sad about me moving away. However, since it is only a 3-hour drive, it does not seem too bad. I think the worst part for him is dealing with my mom and trying to have his life arranged completely differently. But he has been with me throughout the whole process and is still there for me. We try to make date nights whenever we can and communicate over the phone every day. He sends me pictures of the kids and comes here whenever he can.
*If you or anyone you know is interested in submitting a guest post to the blog just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org - if your article is accepted you will receive a $50 Amazon gift card or a free 1-year subscription to the PANCE and PANRE Academy (your choice). Stay tuned our next PA parenting article will be from a father of two!