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How Group Study Works in 1st year PA School at PA Consortium

HOW GROUP STUDY WORKS physician assistant aurthi pa consortium

Using Blackboard to Connect Online

Considering we’re doing online learning right now, we use the online platform that’s offered by UofT called “blackboard” and whoever is in the group study platform just logs on. We have a blank whiteboard, and the ability to share images and PDF the group members online who can then see it and follow along.

Screenshot of a group study session

Sometimes we just test each other. We’ll ask our peers “Can you explain this concept to me?” and then you could add on new concepts. Or if you are the one explaining something to them, you can ask them to repeat it back in their own words to make sure they solidify their understanding.

And then sometimes we ask each other questions – and this depends on what stage of learning you are at. Initially you’re not going to drill someone with too many questions. You’d probably first try to explain concepts to each other, and then progress to asking each other questions. And, it’s amazing how something that someone told you the night before actually shows up on the exam the next!

You learn from each other, and its the supportive aspect of group setting that helps.

If we have for example, 24 lectures to get through  21 lectures and there’s a small group of six of us, then each of us only has to do 4 for lectures. It brings down the workload and then you review the notes of all 24 lectures together in a group in order to prepare for things like pathology meetings or case studies.

Socializing with other 1st year PA Students

In first semester PA school, they say that November is probably the loneliest month because September is really like everyone’s around you, you’re always spending time with your classmates. And then October you’re   getting used to the online learning which feels like downtime compared to September. But by the time November hits, you start to miss your classmates as the online portion wraps up and that does get a bit lonely.

I think this semester we tried to make more changes. I personally like to meet up with people who are closer to me geographically. For example, just a few days ago I spent a few days with my classmate from Oakville.

And it’s interesting how you group together and it’s like you need that   social support and your classmates only know what you’re going through. In terms of online communication, we always try to, Facebook message or online video chat with our classmates and make sure they’re keeping in touch.

I think this semester I’ve started to learn the importance of   keeping in touch with classmates and I’m making time for those kinds of conversations and taking a break because definitely an important aspect of going through such an accelerated program.

Connecting with 2nd year PA Students

When I got my acceptance, I got a phone call from a second year PA student. 1st year PA students get a PA buddy who  welcomes you in and is there to answer any questions you have throughout the summer.

I am the 1st year UofT PA Class Rep, and I’ve been connecting to our 2nd year PA Class Rep and we talk a lot about how to prep for the management committee meetings, touching base after an exam, and checking to see if I meet my learning objectives. It’s reassuring to have that support through these mentors.

And I always keep in touch with PA graduates, like even UofT or Mac, just to get that perspective on what it is like working in the real world.

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⚡️abraCADAVra⚡️ The last week of res block was quite magical, to say the least. We started off with our Medical Interviewing assessment for our CSI class, which was a nerve-racking, yet effective assessment to prepare us for our LCE placements. The rest of the week I camped out at the anatomy lab, spending time with GARCL squad (s/o) and using well-dissected prosections to supplement my learning. Within 24 days, we covered the Thorax, Abdomen, Pelvis and Head & Neck.😳This was a demanding task as we all had different background knowledge in anatomy; however, we did not hesitate to ask questions and step in to help fellow classmates to help prepare for the deadly (😏) anatomy bellringer. The anatomy bellringer also marked the end of our residential block and ironically, I celebrated with a juicy 🍔 from Holy Chuck (defs one of the best burgers I've had yet).😋 . . Another magical aspect of last week was the emotions of temporarily parting ways from my fellow classmates. It's amazing how close we got in one month, from learning new clinical skills together to asking awkward questions to SPs (and replying with "good to know"); most importantly, we learned to lean on each other to make sure we all made it through the month (and defeated PA plague😷). . . I also had the honour of getting voted in as the Class Rep for PA Class of 2020. I am looking forward to representing such an amazingly talented group of people and collaborating with fellow classmates, to enhance the program experience for both my peers and future PA classes at UofT. . . Starting today, we are transitioning into online learning until December Res block. Although I enjoy "attending" the online seminars in my PJs, it'll definitely be interesting to schedule our own days, juggling around the four heavy courses with LCE placements. However, it is also important to take time for yourself, whether you're spending time with family/friends or squeezing in a workout—all about balance! . . Stay tuned for more updates on LCEs 👩🏽‍⚕️

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