AASPA Student News

A Day in the Life of a Second-Year PA Student

Victoria Cruz, PA-S2, AASPA Student Representative

Hi everyone! My name is Victoria Cruz, and I am a second-year Physician Assistant (PA) student from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. I also serve as the current Student Representative of AASPA. I am a Florida native, and I completed my undergraduate degree at USF as well (Go Bulls!). I always knew that I wanted to practice medicine from a young age, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of undergrad that I had found out about the PA profession, and I had fell in love ever since. I applied to PA programs back in 2019 and got accepted on my first application cycle to my top choice program. The USF PA program is a 24-month in length program with 12 months spent in didactic year and 12 months in clinical year. Currently I am on rotation #8 out of 9 total rotations (7 core rotations and 2 elective rotations). Our core clinical rotations are made up of emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry/behavioral health, surgery and women’s health.

What I’ve liked most about clinical year is that every rotation is different and unique in their own way! Schedules can also vary significantly between rotations, for example during my emergency medicine rotation I was working a combination of 8 – 12 hour shifts including weekend and overnight shifts. During my outpatient clinic rotations such as family medicine, I work your typical 8am – 5pm shift with no weekends. I’ve liked the opportunity to be able to rotate in different specialties in a variety of clinical settings because it has allowed me to expand my clinical skills and has shown me all of the possibilities that may be available to me to work in once I graduate from PA school!

Currently, I am on one of my elective rotations which is endocrinology. I chose to do a rotation in endocrinology because I have a personal interest in the field, and I have always been fascinated with the way that all of our hormones work together in the body to maintain a sense of homeostasis. One thing I like about USF is that they have established a great partnership with one of the biggest hospitals in Florida so that has really opened up a lot of doors for health profession students to be able to get clinical rotations in a vast variety of specialties without having to travel very far.

My Typical Day in Endocrinology

I typically wake up around 6:30am every day and get ready. What has been cool about this rotation is that I am actually rotating with three different preceptors between three different clinic rotations. So the night before I will look at my calendar to see which provider I am with and which location I will need to travel to. Dress code for this rotation is really up to the practice you are at and your preceptor’s preference. Luckily, I have the option to choose between business causal and scrubs so it’s nice to be able to switch it up throughout the week. I like to make my lunch the night before so it’s easy to just grab and go the morning of. I also like to bring my breakfast to-go and eat it along the way to save some time in the mornings.

We start seeing patients around 8am so typically I like to arrive to clinic at around 7:45am in order to look at the patient cases for the day. Sometimes if my preceptor is running late, I will go ahead and get started with seeing the first patient on the schedule. Otherwise, my preceptors will usually let me choose around 4-6 patients for the day to see that I feel will be interesting and beneficial to my learning. I value the one-on-one time that I get with my preceptors because it allows me to the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the patient’s history and what they are coming in for.

When I go in to see the patient, I will perform a history, physical exam and review lab results and up to date medications with the patient. Afterwards, I will go back and discuss with my preceptor and give them my recommended treatment plan and then we’ll go back in to see the patient together to finish up the visit. Afterwards I will then work on completing the SOAP note for the patient. One thing I really like about endocrinology is that it involves a lot of patient education. This is why new patient visits are scheduled for an hour slot and follow-ups are scheduled for 30 minutes.

After clinic is finished around 5pm, I will then go home and depending on the day of the week, I will try to get 30 minutes in of riding my peloton bike, take my dog Tobi for a long walk, shower and then prepare dinner. My husband and I will then eat dinner together and then watch a show or a movie before heading off to bed. What’s nice about this rotation is that I have the weekends off and no end of rotation exam to study for since it’s an elective, so I get to enjoy having a lot of free time!

As I am about to almost be finished with this rotation, I look back and I just can’t believe how far I’ve come and how I am almost one rotation away from being done with PA school! I definitely am grateful for the experiences I’ve gained during clinical year, and I am excited to see what the future will hold and hopefully I will be able to find a job in a field that I love!