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Applying To College: Tips From Aurthi Muthu

Physician assistant graduate Aurthi Muthi gives advice on applying to college Applying to college is something all students look forward to after high school. For episode 24 of The Homework Help Show, we spoke to Aurthi Muthu who is a physician assistant from Toronto. Originally from Chennai, India, Aurthi shares her experience as a physician assistant, her application process to PA school, and more.

Find out how to apply for college, some college application requirements, and college admissions from Aurthi Muthu on this blog.

Aurthi Muthu shares figuring out career goals

Figuring Out Career Goals

Aurthi Muthu was preparing for college in high school by weighing her undergraduate degree program options and ultimately her career path.

When she was in high school, following life or health sciences and then going to medical school was the popular option. However, the long-term schooling, debt, and work-life balance made Arthui hesitate to pursue medical school.

Today, Arthui has finished her Physician Assistant Degree Program at the University of Toronto and she took up kinesiology and medical sciences as her undergraduate degree program at the Western University in London, Ontario. Safe to say, despite her initial hesitation, Arthui overcame fear and doubt and was able to successfully find her career path. But her path wasn’t always clear.

She recalls around her fourth year as an undergraduate feeling “bummed out” because it had been four years and she still wasn’t sure what she was doing. She was taking a lot of prerequisite courses and even took the MCAT twice to keep her options open. She was still trying to explore career options and tried finding what really piqued her interest. She described this time in her life as “not a pleasant experience.”

She did a random Google search one day and found a medical career option that required shorter schooling and was less expensive than being a physician. She came across the assistant physician program at the University of Manitoba and she was even surprised such a profession existed. It was almost a lightbulb moment for her and it eventually became clear that after her undergraduate program, she was ready to pursue a career of becoming a physician assistant.

Applying For The Physician Assistant Program

Applying to college is one thing, applying for a graduate program was another. And for medical degrees, the admissions office looks for way more in your application than just your college essay or transcript. In this case, Aurthi needed hours of experience to have a competitive application.

Aurthi applied to PA schools in the US and Canada and a trend she noticed when it came to programs in health care was the required experience hours. Around 10,000 hours to be exact. Even with her combined experience partially in high school and mostly during her undergraduate program, Aurthi’s hours of experience wasn’t even remotely close to 10,000 because she was a full time student. What helped her in her application was her year working as a kinesiologist.

Physician assistant Aurthi shares application process for PA school

The Application Process

1. The First Step

There are different application processes in the US and Canada and Aurthi walked us through each. For starters, the US and Canada have different portal websites where you send in your primary application. For the US, it’s called the CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants) and for Canada it’s called the OUAC (Ontario Universities’ Application Center). This is where you place brief details about you like personal information, your grades, and description of your healthcare experience.

2. The Second Step

The supplemental application which comes next entails answering essay questions that are tailored to your school and program of choice. Aurthi recalls the process of making the essay as “super tough”. There are so many ideas that need to be condensed in a single page telling the admissions committee why you want to pursue a career as a physician assistant.

3. The Third Step

After the first two processes, the third is an invite to an interview. They could either be in an MMI (multiple mini interviews) format or panel-style. Only after the interviews do you hear back from the admissions committee.

The long grueling process, Aurthi recalls, also entailed a lot of refreshing emails awaiting a response. Her application process in itself definitely took time as well. She would put in a few hours here and there and sometimes even take some days off and then come back to it. Her tip is to start before the application process begins. Start early by thinking about your healthcare experience hours and skills you’ve learned to prepare you for actually writing your application.

The same goes for the college admissions process. You don’t need to wait for the application to open before practicing your college essays and personal statements.

Aurthi Muthu shares tips for college applications in her university

Aurthi’s Tips For Applying To College

Start Early

One of Aurthi’s tips for students who are about to apply to colleges, whether its community college or eventually medical school is to start early. She says “…when you have more time, you feel less rushed and you’ll put in more quality work.”

The process is competitive and so are the applicants. Aurthi recalls an example that even if applications are due in February, there are already pre-PAs who are getting ready and working on their applications and health care experience hours.


It dawned on Aurthi on her during her fourth year as an undergraduate, to research other medical careers that lead her to discovering being a physician assistant. Her advice for others preparing for college life is to research possible career options as soon as possible. After all, applying to college becomes easier when you’ve narrowed down your program of choice.

Researching also means looking into what your chosen career actually looks like and Aurthi uses social media to do this. It’s a great way to see other professionals in that specialty who like to share their journey.


When applying to college, not all programs will require a lot of experience, but for programs in the medical field, experience is very important. According to Aurthi, if you’re still unsure of what you need to apply for college or just unsure in general of the path you want to take, observerships and volunteering opportunities really help.

Especially for medical students, volunteering in clinical placements gives you that real life experience that will really help you evaluate whether it’s something you see yourself doing.

Enjoy Learning

Besides research and preparedness, Aurthi also recommends for students to not just take elective courses that are prerequisites or are required, but take up courses that they enjoy or find interesting. This is because looking into different avenues eventually helps you determine a career path. You also get to figure out a lot about yourself in the process.

She never thought she would need it, but Aurthi recalls taking an English course that actually taught her a lot. There are even some things she’s learned in that course that she was able to take with her as a practicing clinician now like critical thinking skills.

She also remembers a resume or professional writing course that is super helpful because when applying to college or eventually applying for jobs, you need to be able to know how to write a resume and cover letter.

If you weren’t able to get a professional writing course in college and need help creating your resume and cover letter, Homework Help Global has you covered! We have a great team of writers who can create resumes and cover letters for you!

Aurthi shares her experience of going to physician assistant school

Transitioning From Undergraduate Program To Physician Assistant School

Aurthi compared going to PA school with drinking water out of a fire hydrant. There is such a contrast between being an undergraduate and going to PA school in the sense that lessons almost feel like information overload. She remembers finding it hard to keep up with all the materials needed to prepare for exams and then having to retain all that information for clinical practice.

The main difference between being an undergrad and going to PA school was the kind of learning it entailed. Being an undergrad meant a lot of passive learning like memorization or knowing which is the right answer in a multiple choice exam. In PA school, it’s very different and a lot more practical. PA students are given patient case scenarios that can be overwhelming at times.

Work-Life-School Balance

When it comes to managing time for herself, school, family, and friends, Aurthi says she’s a big fan of to-do lists. It’s also a very motivating way of managing your time because you feel so accomplished after checking a task or goal even if it’s as simple as making coffee.

When you’re applying to college, you could definitely benefit a lot like Aurthi by having a to-do list that helps you stay organized, motivated, and accountable. What Aurthi does is every Sunday, she would write down her deadlines and keep track of her synchronized classes or exams. She then schedules her studying around those important dates. She also makes sure she adds to her schedule leisurely activities like hanging out with friends so every moment is organized and accounted for.

When applying to college, it also helps a lot knowing what kind of student or learner you are to help prepare you for that life. Aurthi is a visual and auditory learner and she’s also a morning person. She says it’s important for students to figure these things out and be self-aware. She also shares an important note on productivity. She highlights the importance of knowing when to take breaks and being kind to ourselves because not everyday is going to look as productive as you would like it to be. Knowing the right balance between studying and knowing how to take a break means a lot for your sustained productivity.

Aurthi Muthu shares her study tips

Aurthi’s Study Tips

● Give yourself some time

Aurthi is not the biggest fan of all-nighters and she definitely doesn’t recommend it to anyone. Her preparedness and “start early” tip also applies to studying. She finds that giving yourself shorter hours within a day to complete tasks and then going back later to finish usually produces better quality outputs.

For example, she finds it easier to complete an essay if she devotes just two hours a day way before a deadline and then allows herself to do other tasks after. Since she has plenty of time to complete the essay, there’s no pressure and she’s able to create better work. She also says it’s good for the brain to have variety. It’s harder to get motivated doing one thing for a long period of time compared to doing a variety of things throughout the day.

If you have a hard time finding this balance and variety within your day, or if you haven’t planned enough time to finish an essay, Homework Help Global specializes in custom academically written essays. If you have a busy schedule, there’s no need to worry about cramming when you can employ the help of our amazing writers.

● Get rid of distractions

It’s easy for students to get distracted especially with social media. This is why it’s important to plan ahead and it’s okay to even pencil in some time specifically just for leisure. This way you can give yourself the time to check up on your social feed but still get work done.

● Set a timer

The Pomodoro Technique is one of Aurthi’s favorite study tips. She only recently started using it during her time in PA school. She does 25 minutes of studying and five minutes off. She does that for a few cycles and then eventually she can bump up her breaks to 10 or 30 minutes. She also tries to maximize her break times and makes sure she is resting her mind and thinking of other things. It’s important to have an actual timer to stay accountable to the plan and her tip is to not look at the clock at all.

If you want to know more about the Pomodoro Technique, watch a previous episode of the Homework Help Show on How To Create An Effective Study Routine.

● Get some sleep

Just like her no-cramming tip, Aurthi values sleep much more than overexerting yourself before an exam. For her, performing better in an exam means she’s had a minimum of six hours of sleep instead of cramming information the night before.

● Pace yourself

Think of studying as a marathon and not a sprint. A steady pace is much more effective than putting 110% as soon as the semester starts and then you risk burning out. She references the Yerkes-Dodson Law which states the relationship between pressure and performance. A little stress or anxiety is good and aids in your ability to perform better because it shows you care. With the right pacing in studying, you can optimize this stress and not let it affect your grades or studying habits in a negative way.

Aurthi Muthi relieves stress through playing tennis

Dealing with stress

Maintaining a balance of her work life and school life is a top priority for Aurthi. In order to do so, she says it’s important to be self-reflective and know when you’re stressed and take actions accordingly. Students shouldn’t feel guilty about taking breaks in school and to prioritize their mental health as well. The key for her is to normalize stress levels and still make time for things you love. If you’re in school, studying will always be there and there’s always going to be work that needs to be done so make time for other things that spark joy in your life. For Aurthi, her best stress relief activity is tennis and calls it therapeutic.

Aurthi says, “you want to avoid burnout in the long run, because once you’re burned out, like you have no choice, you do have to take that time off.” This is a testament to how prioritizing yourself gives you the ability to be better in other aspects of your life.

Burnout Syndrome is a real phenomenon that a lot of students experience and is something to consider as you’re applying to college. Read our past blog about it to learn how to deal and overcome it.

Aurthi Muthu shares how to succeed in school

How To Succeed In School

To succeed in college, Aurthi says you have to be disciplined. There will be a lot of distractions along the way but it’s important to stay on track and stick to your goals.

Applying to college is only the first step to a whole new world. Having good people around you in school who motivate and support you also helps in your own success. All the people Aurthi surrounded herself with in college eventually made it to medical school. They all had each other as motivators. They were all good in prioritizing school, were driven, but also made time for themselves for that perfect balance.

Extracurricular activities are also important because they teach you transferable skills. It also teaches you work ethics, time management skills, confidence, and leadership skills.

Looking back at her college experience quite fondly, Aurthi shares with our audience, “Don’t stress about grades, don’t stress about the end goal. Everything will kind of fall into place.”

Read a similar blog we wrote on making time for yourself and the rest will fall into place to understand the importance of having some “me-time.”

Aurthi Muthu is interviewed on The Homework Help Show

Listen to Aurthi Muthu’s Full Interview On The Homework Help Show Student Influencers Podcast

Applying to college can be a stressful, nerve-wracking experience but there are so many lessons you can take away from it. Just like Aurthi, you may not be sure where you’re headed but if you just keep going, inspiration will strike. Like anything in life, you just have to keep going, work diligently and everything will sort itself out.

You can listen to the full podcast on Anchor or if you prefer visuals you can also see the video version of our podcast on our YouTube channel. We’re also on various podcast platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, Google Podcasts and more so you can’t miss out!

Your educational journey can be made easy with Homework Help Global! Visit our website for more inspirational and educational blogs and see our full list of services that range from custom essays to assistance on scholarship essays and applications.


Aurthi [00:00:00] If you’re passionate about something, you’re going to do better than no matter what career choice that is, you’re gonna probably perform well and do well overall.

Lesley [00:00:11] Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of The Homework Help Show Student Influencers podcast. Today, I’m here with Aurthi, so welcome. How are you today?

Aurthi [00:00:22] Good, thank you. How are you?

Lesley [00:00:24] I’m good, thank you. Just to get started, why don’t you go ahead and tell us where you were born and raised and then where you are now.

Aurthi [00:00:33] So I was actually born in India and then my family moved to Canada when I was four years old. I have moved around quite a lot within Ontario itself, but I’m currently located in Toronto.

Lesley [00:00:44] Perfect. Where in India where you born?

Aurthi [00:00:46] Chennai, India, South India.

Lesley [00:00:48] OK, I’ve never heard of that before. In the south of India you said?

Aurthi [00:00:52] Yes.

Lesley [00:00:53] OK, cool. And what school, college, university do you currently go to?

Aurthi [00:01:00] So I just finished up the Physician Assistant Professional Degree Program at the University of Toronto in Canada. Prior to that, I finished my undergrad studies at Western University in London, Ontario, and that was in kinesiology and medical sciences.

Lesley [00:01:16] OK, perfect. And what are you doing right now? So you said you just finished the PA program?

Aurthi [00:01:22] Yeah. So currently I’m working some temporary jobs while applying for a full time position as a physician assistant. So in Ontario, we have this career start program to help new grads secure jobs. So the government covers half the salary while the employer covers the other half for like a one to two year period. And the grant and the corresponding job postings are yet to be released. So once that happens, I’m sure things will kick start and hopefully I’ll be employed by the end of this year.

Lesley [00:01:49] Perfect. That’s really cool. I didn’t know that they had a program for that. I know they have programs for like other industries too. So I guess that makes sense.

Aurthi [00:01:57] Yeah, this is something specifically for the PA profession in Ontario. So considering it’s a growing profession, it definitely helps the new grads.

Lesley [00:02:06] Cool. So for those listening who might not be completely sure, PA stands for physician assistant. Correct?

Aurthi [00:02:15] Correct.

Lesley [00:02:16] And can you tell me a bit about what that position entails?

Aurthi [00:02:21] Yeah. So physician assistants, or PA for short, as you mentioned, are advanced practice practice practitioners or advanced practitioners like APP or AP, and they’re trained using the medical model similar to physicians. So correspondingly, our scope of practice also mirrors that of the supervising physician who we work with in a collaborative manner to consult, diagnose and treat patients. So we’re also able to perform controlled acts such as administering injections or casting a fracture which are usually delegated to us by our supervising physician, usually in the form of medical directives. PAs are generally trained as generals and assist in various clinical settings, including family medicine, ER, other specialties, including in the OR for surgical specialties as well. But yeah, like the flexibility of our role allows us to help out in any setting, and we’re particularly known for reducing wait times in the E.R. or increasing access to care in rural, underserved areas.

Lesley [00:03:27] So you would work kind of either in a hospital or in a doctor’s office or really wherever, wherever, wherever it would be, right?

Aurthi [00:03:35] Exactly. Wherever you can find a physician, you can find a PA pretty much just to help them out and work in a team based setting.

Lesley [00:03:43] OK. Cool. Sounds good. What made you decide to take that path and become a physician assistant? Were you kind of always interested in that? I know you said you did study kinesiology before that.

Aurthi [00:03:58] So that’s a common question that I get. So in high school, I was really interested in the sciences, which I know a lot of students are. So I was trying to figure out what to do in terms of undergrad, but also ultimately as a career. And I think the most obvious or the most popular option back then was following life sciences or taking health sciences undergrad and then pursuing medical school. But even back then, I was hesitant to, like, pursue medical school because it’s super long in terms of schooling, but also a lot of debt and also the work life balance and in terms of career was something that I wanted, I prioritized. So I was hesitant about that career path. And then with regards to why I ended up in kin for my undergrad, in grade 12 I took the exercise science course that basically helped me decide my undergrad studies because I really enjoyed anatomy like biomechanics, because I really like physics and biomechanics is physics applied to the human body. So that was interesting for me. So once I went into undergrad, I still continued to take science courses, mostly to keep my options open, but also just to explore other career options and see what interests me. I did take the MCAT twice, again to keep my options open. It was definitely not a pleasant experience. But again, like I think as an undergrad student, I wanted to take all these prerequisite courses or all these exams just to keep my options open, to apply to med school should the time come or when the time came. And then in fourth year, this is going to sound super silly. Every time I say it, I get the most shocked reaction. But I honestly, in fourth year, I was like super bummed out because I’m like, I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, it’s been four years. I still don’t know what I want as my end goal. And then I basically did a Google search and I think it was something along the lines of like medical careers with shorter schooling and less expensive than becoming a physician, but something longer than that. And I came across a physician assistant program at University of Manitoba, and I still remember being surprised that such a profession existed. And then the more I researched about it, I came across the profession was super established in the States and there were like a lot of programs in the States. So pretty much after that epiphany, I basically finished undergrad and then that was my ultimate goal of becoming a PA. So I just took the next steps accordingly.

Lesley [00:06:30] Well, I feel like that’s something a lot of people kind of do to discover stuff is just do a Google search about it. There’s so much information out there. Why not just throw out a search and see what happens?

Aurthi [00:06:43] Exactly. Yeah. I know Google was definitely my friend in fourth year undergrad. I was like I need some motivation to get through and I think Google definitely helped me out there.

Lesley [00:06:52] Yeah, definitely sounds like it. So what path- I know we kind of just talked about a little bit how you got to PA school, but what kind of path did you take specifically to get into PA school in terms of like admissions and how did that work?

Aurthi [00:07:11] Definitely. So after high school, I did my four years of undergrad in kinesiology and medical sciences. And then I actually took a year off to work as a kinesiologist because for PA school, in order to be a competitive applicant, they ask- they ask for like a lot of patient care hours or health care experience hours. So that’s like something unique to PA school that I would say compared to medical school in that there’s a lot of emphasis on those health care experience hours depending on the program. So I applied to both PA schools in the States as well as Canada. And like some of these programs, actually, I think they required ten thousand hours in order for you to be competitive. So it was- yeah. It was- it was a crazy, crazy number. And considering I was able to combine all my hours that I got throughout high school or part of high school and undergrad, I still wasn’t anywhere close to that because I was being a full time student. So my year off working as a kinesiologist full time definitely helped with my application. And then I basically started my application process so during my year off and again, as I mentioned, I applied to the states, which is rolling admissions. So because I started that application early, I interviewed for it early as well. So I got an interview for a school in New York. And then after that I started my Canadian application. I guess it might be helpful to go over the general overview of the application, if that’s something.

Lesley [00:08:38] Yeah, definitely.

Aurthi [00:08:39] Yeah. So the general overview for application for PA school would be the primary application. So in the States, they use this portal called CASPA. So that’s the centralized application service for PAs. And then in Canada they use OUAC so OUAC again, the Ontario University Application Center or something.

Lesley [00:09:00] Yeah, I remember going through that too.

Aurthi [00:09:04] Yeah. So those two different portals, basically you would do your primary application where you put in your personal details, your grades, description of your health care experience. This is usually very brief. And then the secondary application, or more commonly known as the supplemental application, is where you answer essay questions specific to the school and program. And it’s usually in paragraph format or essays. And then CASPA, I think, also has a personal statement that you write, so that would be for all the programs you apply for the States and the University of Manitoba specifically. And Canada has a similar personal essay. Those ones always are super tough because you have to, you know- you have all these ideas you want to write and you can only condense it in like one page or something and say why you want to be a PA. But regardless, yeah. So after that, you get invited to interview, which could be MMI or panel style interview. And then after you hear back about admissions, and it’s honestly like a long process, I remember going through it being super nervous because the waiting game is like it’s crazy, like you can’t do much, but you just have to wait and wait for that email. Always refreshing your email. But yeah, it’s a long process. But if you put in the work, you start early and you put in some quality work, it will definitely be worth it.

Lesley [00:10:25] How long would you say that that process took?

Aurthi [00:10:29] Oh, months. Definitely months. So I started early because I wanted to take my time and considering I was working full time, I didn’t have like, I couldn’t sit down a whole day and work on my application. So I put in like a few hours sometimes if I’m lucky every day. And then sometimes I take a few days off and then go back to the application. But I think, like, you can start even before the application opens by starting to think about the health care experience hours and the skills you learned from those experiences that you can use in your application.

Lesley [00:10:59] Yeah, or even if maybe you wanted to start practicing like your essays and personal statements and like spend more time on those.

Aurthi [00:11:06] Exactly. Yeah, I think those are all great things that you can get started on earlier. You don’t have to wait for the application to open.

Lesley [00:11:14] And definitely like what time of year is that? Would you apply like in the spring?

Aurthi [00:11:21] So in- for the states because it’s rolling admission, I did apply like in the spring and then I got interviewed for the winter. But for Canada, you actually apply in the winter like fall winter time, and then you get interviewed for the following spring and then like in a few months or a couple of months, you would start the program.

Lesley [00:11:39] OK, so it’s definitely like you would do it pretty soon into the semester before, right?

Aurthi [00:11:45] Exactly.

Lesley [00:11:46] OK, just so- just so that anybody listening who is considering taking this same career path, might want to know that so they can start getting prepared ahead of time.

Aurthi [00:11:57] I agree. And I think that’s one of my tips to applicants, like start early. Like researching about the career options, but also programs so that you can kind of start preparing accordingly. I know it’s always like I think even now there’s admission requirements going up about the PA programs. And even though applications are due in February, we have like pre-PAs who are already working on their application now and getting their health care experience hours. So when you have more time, you feel less rushed and you’ll put in more quality work.

Lesley [00:12:24] Exactly. And you just have that extra time to take your time and not stress yourself out to the point where you’re just like throwing things together in a panic, because I know a lot of students end up doing that. And that reflects in your- when you’re applying to colleges and universities or post-secondary or postgrad programs.

Aurthi [00:12:45] Exactly. No, I totally agree with that.

Lesley [00:12:48] Definitely. Do you have any other kind of tips or advice for students looking to get into either a PA program or even just another kind of similar clinical program like this one?

Aurthi [00:13:03] Yeah, definitely. So as I mentioned earlier, like starting to research early about career options, like you can even start as early as middle school. I think I got a message from a student who was like in grade five or six who was like looking through Instagram and finding career options just to motivate them. And they’re like, oh, what’s a PA? So I think it’s inspiring to see that. And it’s definitely helpful because then they’ll have this career that they’re working towards. And again, when you start early, it’s just like an easier or relatively easier process because you’re a bit more prepared. So social media definitely is like a good resource in that sense as well because I know a lot of PAs but also other professions like other medical students or other physicians or DOs who share their journey as well. So it’s helpful to see that personal aspect of the journey. And then if you’re unsure of what you want to do, I think observerships or volunteering in clinical placements are helpful as well, because that kind of gives you that real life experience to see if that’s something you see yourself doing down the line. I think we already talked about researching about the specific programs and also I think with students, they take these prerequisite courses, which I know like is a requirement. But I would also encourage students to take courses that they enjoy or they find interesting because I think that helps you figure out who you are as a person and what you’re interested in to help determine a career option, and sometimes if one of these prerequisite courses align with that, then that’s a bonus. And I don’t know, have you heard of bird courses?

Lesley [00:14:43] Yep, definitely.

Aurthi [00:14:45] So bird courses are a very common thing in undergrad. I know all these students who are like, let me take a bird course to boost my GPA and there’s nothing wrong with it. But if you could find a bird course that you’re genuinely interested in or will help you interact with patients or something, some aspects of your career down the line, that I think that’s also helpful, I think. So I took an English course like children’s literature or something, and I took it because I needed an English course. But I was actually curious to see all these books and what their analysis and the deeper meaning or whatever is. And it actually gives you a good- it teaches you all these critical thinking skills that you look beyond the superficial aspect of any writing. So I found that helpful and I still find that helpful as a clinician now. So that would be a good example of that.

Lesley [00:15:35] I think that definitely- that’s the thing, like with bird- with bird courses, like, yeah, OK, you can you can take the easy course to improve your GPA. And again, like you said, there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a lot of bird courses out there that will still help you improve your GPA, but also teach you important other skills that may not be related to your program that you’re studying specifically. But it could be anything related to like life skills or even, like you said, just learning to think critically about things, because you could learn that in so many different disciplines and so many different types of courses too.

Aurthi [00:16:11] Exactly. And I think another course I remember now is I think there was like a resumé or professional writing course that’s super helpful, no matter what field you get into, because to apply to any job, you need a resume and cover letter. So that’s going to come in clutch any, for any profession.

Lesley [00:16:27] Yeah. I think that should be a mandatory course for everybody, because I feel like if everyone took a course like that, people would be so ahead of the game, I guess.

Aurthi [00:16:37] Yeah, definitely.

Lesley [00:16:38] Yeah. I definitely took a bunch of- I definitely took quite a few bird courses. I actually think I did- I did a children’s literature course too.

Aurthi [00:16:47] No way.

Lesley [00:16:49] And now that I think about them like I did that too, I’m pretty sure.

Aurthi [00:16:52] Yeah. And it’s funny when you- so I had to do an essay on Coralline and I’m like, I remember being like, OK, this is like very like dark or something. And then I just recently watched the movie and I’m like, you would never catch any of that if you were just watching the movie, as creepy as the movie is. But like, it’s just super interesting to start thinking that way and it definitely shapes who you are or how you think for any- in any capacity.

Lesley [00:17:17] Yeah. Just how you look at things and how you- even how your own experiences in your own background kind of shape the way that you interpret that information and what you’re seeing and even too going, like- when you’re- especially with a course like that, like a children’s literature course and you’re going back and you’re looking at things that you maybe you watched this Disney movie as a child and now you’re looking back at it with that critical lens and you have this entirely new perspective on it.

Aurthi [00:17:48] Yeah, exactly. Yeah, definitely. A lot of mind blowing moments during the course.

Lesley [00:17:53] Yeah, definitely. I had the same experience. So going back to the applicant- going back to going into PA school. What was it kind of like- I was trying to choose my words. What was it kind of like to transition from that undergrad program into a more specialized PA school? Were there any kind of challenges that you faced when you were going from one environment to the other?

Aurthi [00:18:27] Yeah, definitely, that’s a great question. So studying in PA school is definitely different from undergrad. I think they say like studying in PA school or learning in PA school is like drinking water out of a fire hydrant. So and honestly, that analogy, I couldn’t agree more because a lot of information is thrown at you in didactic year, which is the first year of PA school. And I found it challenging to cover all the material and prepare for exams, but also like making sure that I retained that information for clinical practice. So I think you should go into PA school with a clinician’s mindset. I don’t know if that makes sense. Where instead of focusing on what’s to be- what’s going to be tested on the exam and what do I need to know, like you would in undergrad, you would need to focus on, like understanding the material and kind of how it applies to a clinical example or a patient case. So-.

Lesley [00:19:27] More practical?

Aurthi [00:19:29] Exactly. Exactly. That’s the word, yeah. So a clinician mindset, like a more practical, practical learning. And I think they differentiate like passive learning and active learning. And in undergrad, we do a lot of passive learning where we’re like, you know, it’s just note memorization. We know the information. We can recognize it on a multiple choice option. But then with PA school, you’re going to be given a clinical vignette, which is like a patient case scenario, and you’re going to have to apply what you learned to make a decision or like a patient case scenario. So you need to understand the material. But when there’s a lot of information presented to you at once, it’s just it can be super overwhelming.

Lesley [00:20:08] Right. That makes sense.

Aurthi [00:20:10] So I think ultimately what I had to do was basically try to figure out the type of learner I was. So I know, like I’m a visual learner. I don’t know if you’re also a visual learner or audiory learner.

Lesley [00:20:23] Yeah.

Aurthi [00:20:23] Visual as well?

Lesley [00:20:23] Yeah, definitely.

Aurthi [00:20:25] Yeah. So actually, a lot of my classmates were audio- auditory learners, so they enjoyed the lecture videos and they would just listen to it on repeat and that would help consolidate the information. But for me, like I like seeing videos or like drawing out the concepts and I think from undergrad to PA school that was like a major transition or major reflection point where I had to be like, I’m a visual learner, so I have to find resources to help me better learn or learn more efficiently because I have all this information to cover. So that’s one thing. And then also like quizzing each other or teaching concepts to your classmates, things you don’t do often in undergrad. But you would do so in professional degree programs.

Lesley [00:21:05] Right.

Aurthi [00:21:06] Other challenges is maintaining a school life balance. So depending on the program, this would vary. But in PA school particularly, I found myself like, no, I have too much studying to do. I can’t hang out or I can’t do this. But I eventually worked towards finding that balance.

Lesley [00:21:23] Yeah, definitely. Definitely finding that balance is really tricky, especially when- I know a lot of students struggle with that in their first year of any program, because it’s just- it’s such a different environment and you’re just going into this world where you’re accountable for everything and you can’t- it’s important to have fun while you’re in school, but it’s also important to make sure you get your work done because that’s what you’re paying to be there for.

Aurthi [00:21:50] Exactly. And I think like even an undergrad, like going from high school to undergrad, that’s a major stressor for students because one, you’re paying for your education. But two, like this is like, you have to figure out what you’re going to do with this degree that you’re paying for and what’s your ultimate career. So there’s that added pressure, whereas high school like it’s funded. So you’re just there to learn and do well. But it definitely adds more responsibilities. And then PA program on top of that with a lot of information and then this I guess is added pressure in that you have to learn well enough to practice and take care of patients after school or after- yeah, after school. After PA school, two years of PA school. Yeah, it’s definitely like I think you keep adding pressure as you go throughout your education or academic career. And that’s definitely something that students will probably be feeling stressed about. But again, we’re all in the same boat in that sense.

Lesley [00:22:43] Yeah, while we’re on that topic, did you- when you were in school, did you also work part time or anything like that?

Aurthi [00:22:51] So in undergrad, I did. I worked as a tennis coach and I actually enjoyed it because it gave me the opportunity to kind of, you know, stop studying and play the sport I love or teach the sport I love. I also did get to play the sport I love. I played four years of varsity tennis for Western. So again, I really enjoy doing that. And I think I had a better school life balance in that sense in undergrad. PA school, I did not work at all. I was in my room studying most of the time. I did schedule, like you know, I hung out with friends or family and spent time with family. I try to squeeze workouts in and that was basically my- my break. I did have classmates, though, who did work part time and they enjoyed it because same thing as tennis coaching for me in undergrad. They liked that it was this opportunity to- where they definitely had to stop studying. It was something like drawing them away, not something that was optional. And they also got to make some money concurrently. So that was also a great thing. So I think depending on the type of student you are, it’s definitely possible. But that’s something that will vary based on the individual.

Lesley [00:23:58] Yeah, like it definitely will depend on how heavy workload your program is. I mean, that’s kind of helpful too that you were able to do tennis coaching, too, because then you’re still- you’re getting that exercise in too, which is super helpful for your- for everything like for your self care and all of that kind of stuff, too. So that’s a really good way to kind of blend all of those together.

Aurthi [00:24:22] Yeah, no, that’s that’s a good point. So I, I actually haven’t worked like a like a typical retail job or anything, like I’ve always worked- so prior to working as a kinesiologist I’ve only coached tennis.

Lesley [00:24:34] Oh, really?

Aurthi [00:24:35] Yeah. So it’s actually kind of unique. My, my parents have always been like, oh no, don’t get distracted by working. But I’m like, what if it’s tennis coaching, I’m like being active. They were like, OK, yeah, I guess that’s fair. So I’ve only done coaching. And then when I started working as a kin, it was still like active, like, you know, your teaching exercises, you’re sometimes doing it with the patient so that their form is correct. So that was always nice. And then now as a PA, practicing medicine, this is my ultimate goal. So I don’t mind that it’s not as active. But again, depending on the specialty, like if I work in orthopedics or sports medicine, then there’s definitely an active or more active component to it.

Lesley [00:25:10] Yeah, you could definitely incorporate the tennis in there if you were doing sports medicine for sure. And you’d obviously have a lot of experience to help you out with that too.

Aurthi [00:25:20] Yeah.

Lesley [00:25:22] So with all of that, even whether you were working or not, did you have any kind of things you did to manage your time or any time management routines that helped you kind of stay on track and still make time for your family and friends?

Aurthi [00:25:37] Yeah. So I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of To-Do lists.

Lesley [00:25:43] Yeah, me too.

Aurthi [00:25:43] So I do- I love planning ahead and making this list of things that I have to do, even if it’s like the simplest thing. Like sometimes I put in like make coffee or make breakfast and just to check that off is super, like, motivating.

Lesley [00:25:58] I do the same thing.

Aurthi [00:25:59] Yeah. I think a lot of us could probably, like a lot of us listening, could probably agree with us on that. But it’s just super like it’s a great incentive just to check it off the to do list. So sometimes we add these silly ones on. But jokes aside, like, I basically started doing this to do list, and every Sunday when I was in school, I would write down the deadlines and like any synchronized online classes or any like exams or anything like that. And then I would schedule my studying around that. But I also made sure I scheduled, like, oh, like hang out with my friend on this day and work out at this time so that I like equally balanced that alongside my studying. So to do lists are definitely helpful and then planning ahead. So looking ahead for the whole month and then weekly, I found that helpful. I think the other thing is you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I am a very early morning person, so I like waking up at five a.m. like myself, like not because I have to, but because I just I’m super productive during that time. So I wake up at five a.m. or six a.m. and get most of my work done in the first five, six hours, and then I’ll take my break. And usually I hit a slump after that. But I have friends who are like night owls, so they sleep throughout the day, wake up at four thirty pm and then their day is just getting started and they sleep at three a.m. or something. So I think as a student figure out like what type of stu- or what type of person you are, like early morning person or like a night owl and like study accordingly. And then lastly, I would say like being self-aware. So all of us are going to probably not be productive all the time and just reflecting on that and kind of taking off, taking a break or doing whatever it takes to get you back on track. I think that’s important because I find myself sometimes I’m like, I can’t afford to take a break now. I need to be productive. But then I was like, super tired, but I couldn’t be productive. So it’s like a vicious cycle. But if you’re like self reflecting and self-aware, then you definitely would be like, you know, enhancing your productivity in the long run.

Lesley [00:28:05] I think that’s- being- that- the point about being self-aware is really important because it goes back to a lot of- even a lot of what we’ve just talked about, like knowing your learning style and what works for you, knowing what kind of person you are, whether you’re a morning person or a night person or anything like that, and knowing, OK, this is when I feel most productive. So maybe I should put all of my most important tasks in this window. And if that means waking up at five a.m. and doing it like doing things in the morning, then do that. But if- if you’re not a morning person and that means scheduling all your stuff in the evening, then that works too. But I think that self-awareness is really, really key to all of those different factors of student life in general.

Aurthi [00:28:53] Yeah, definitely. I agree. And I think the other thing is like variety. So a lot of people like set like maybe two tasks in a day and they’re like, OK, I’m going to finish this whole essay in one sitting or finish like the rough draft, even. Like I think if you set two hours to do quality work for one assignment and then move on to another task and start thinking about something else and then even come back to the same assignment that you worked on before or something else, and then the next day kind of put in that quality work in a short amount of time. I find like the end product is usually better instead of cramming it all in one sitting.

Lesley [00:29:28] Yeah, I definitely agree with that because there’s nothing- the most demotivating thing I think to me is having this really big say it’s an essay, say whatever it is, and you’re just- I’m going to spend this whole day working on this. And I know from my own experience every time I do that, I don’t end up working on that thing the whole day because I work on it for maybe a couple hours and then I just go, OK. I’m done with this. Like it’s so hard to motivate yourself to just- just- just do one thing the whole time and for a long period of time.

Aurthi [00:30:01] Yeah, I find like students like myself for sure, but a lot of students get distracted. And like we have like access to social media and things like that. But also if you’re doing the same thing at once, unless there’s some sort of like time pressure or the deadline’s tonight and I have to get this done, usually you’re not going to be able to, like, put in quality work in that whole eight hour span. So just like, I guess thinking ahead and just saying, OK, two hours of this essay and then I move on and I think it a brain like the human brain probably really likes the variety. So it’s like, OK, we’re changing gears. We’re going to look at this now and then go, wow.

Lesley [00:30:37] I read a statistic a long time ago and I can’t even remember where I read it. But it was that the human brain can really only focus on one thing for 90 minutes. And then after 90 minutes, it’s just like that focus isn’t there anymore. And that’s kind of what like certain tech, like the Pomodoro technique. That’s what kind of all of those things are based on. And you have to keep like you can’t just try to sove- that’s why I- like we always say in all of our content, we always say, like, don’t pull those all nighters because you can’t force your brain to focus productively on something for hours and hours without a break.

Aurthi [00:31:16] Yeah, no, I- I can’t even- I haven’t pulled an all nighter ever in school.

Lesley [00:31:23] I don’t think I ever pulled any either.

Aurthi [00:31:25] No, like, I personally find that I’d rather get like a few hours of sleep and perform better on the exam the next day than like, you know, cram all this information in and not be able to function when I’m writing the exam. So I’m always like minimum three to six hours of sleep if, like, you know, it’s last minute. But I always try to get minimum six hours. And I think the other thing you mentioned, the Pomodoro like timer. I only started using that in PA school because we had like 30 lectures to cover in one week for one course, in which case I’m like, I have to study, but I have to study efficiently. So let’s do twenty five minutes on, five minutes off. And then I think you do that like a few cycles and then you get a 10 minute break or a 30 minute break and then I’d usually eat lunch with like a show so that I’m taking my mind off, resting my brain and then jump back into it. But any like timers like that or any tools out there that help you kind of stay on task for that allocated time period is super helpful as a student.

Lesley [00:32:20] Yeah, we talk about the Pomodoro technique a lot because not a lot of people, from my experience anyway, not a lot of people have really heard of it. But once they- once people start using it, they’re like, OK, this makes it a really big difference. Like using those timers do- does make a difference.

Aurthi [00:32:39] Yeah, especially when you have, like, a lot to do, it almost helps you, like, break it down in like a reasonable manner and then also be productive. So it’s like a win win. You don’t have to do the job. The timer is telling you when to do it.

Lesley [00:32:51] Yeah, for me too, something about just like knowing that timer’s there is like- give- really gives me that push to focus. I’m like, OK, the timer is going to go off, the timer’s going to go off, I got to, I have to finish this and then sometimes it’s even done before the timer goes off.

Aurthi [00:33:05] Yeah. I think the trick is to not look at the timer.

Lesley [00:33:07] Yeah.

Aurthi [00:33:07] You have to hide it in the background.

Lesley [00:33:08] You have to just let it go. Yeah.

Aurthi [00:33:10] Because if you’re, if you’re like wow, I work so hard then you set the timer for like twenty five minutes and you work so hard and you’re like how many minutes has it been. It’s been two minutes. You’re like, oh, I can’t do twenty three more minutes of this.

Lesley [00:33:20] But if you don’t, if you can’t see the time and you just keep going and going, you’re always going to be like OK, it’s going to go off any minute. So you’re really like hunker down and it really motivates you to just get that finished.

Aurthi [00:33:31] Yeah. No I agree, I totally agree with that one.

Lesley [00:33:33] Definitely. So another thing that I like to kind of ask people, because I know, especially right now, just given the state of life right now, is I like to talk about managing stress. So is there anything that you kind of do to manage stress with all of these, you know, all this demanding, I mean, I guess right now- more so like while you were in PA school or even now while you’re applying to jobs and stuff like that?

Aurthi [00:34:03] Yeah, so I think- so I’m a strong believer in maintaining school life, work life balance. So I always try to do that, even no matter how overwhelmed I feel with the work I have to do. So I think, again, being self reflective and knowing when you’re stressed and taking actions accordingly. So I know students will probably feel super guilty if they take a few hours off from studying or even an entire day or entire weekend off just to relax and do no schoolwork. I know I did when I started PA school, but I think just to kind of reassure yourself that that’s OK and prioritizing your mental health and just trying to normalize your stress levels, I think that’s key. The other thing is like doing things you love. So I don’t- like, studying is always going to be there. If you’re in a program like studying is always going to be there. There’s always going to be work to do. But like for me, I played tennis. I made sure that I got the opportunity to play tennis. So that was more so in undergrad. But even in PA school, I, I actually missed the sport so much that I would come home to my parents because there was a tennis court closer to home and then I would schedule a hit with my my friends just so that I got that, that, I guess stress relief. And sometimes it’s actually therapeutic to play tennis and it’s all really like you’re going to pull a Serena Williams. So that’s something I did. I know classmates who like- who enjoy cooking and started cooking to help them. You know, it’s like, OK, I’m going to cook this meal, so I’ll just have to get the studying done and then meal prep. So I started doing that as well, especially during the pandemic when we have to be at home. I’m like, you know what? Like good food is always a good incentive to get something done. It’s also like stress relief. So I started trying out new recipes and when the food turned out great, it was a bonus. So that’s always nice. But I think, yeah- like, being self reflective again, whether you’re overwhelmed, whether you’re stressed and doing things you love and prioritizing that like balance between school or even work and life because you want to avoid burnout in the long run, because once you’re burned out, like you have no choice, you do have to take that time off. So that’s doing yourself.

Lesley [00:36:19] That student burnout is a really, really big thing because so many students go through that and it takes- it takes a lot of focus to kind of pull yourself out of that and avoiding it by doing all of the stress, the destressing and stuff like that is a lot easier on you as a person than letting yourself hit that point where you get when you get that burnout and not knowing if you will kind of come back from that.

Aurthi [00:36:44] Exactly. You know, that’s a that’s a definitely it’s an important point for students because and I think, like pacing yourself, just like you would start a marathon, like I know a lot of my classmates, like they went like one hundred and ten percent in September itself. And we would get like, like, hundreds of pages of reading sometimes. And you would have to complete this in like a couple of nights or sometimes even one night would we get like assigned 70 pages. And these are like dense textbooks, so. Kind of realizing that that’s a lot of work and how am I going to study efficiently, so focusing on the key points and yes, you’re like it’s a lot of work, but how am I going to make it less stressful? So when I started PA school, like I didn’t dive in where I’m like, I’m giving one hundred and ten percent, like I paced myself so that my performance stayed steady and I didn’t burn out. So I made sure that, like, realized and then I didn’t- I don’t know. It sounds like don’t give it your all. Like you should give it your all, but also give enough that you have enough for yourself so that you’re not burning out. And that being said, also speaking to your parents or your friends or your siblings, like, hey, I’m stressed like I’ve been studying like eight hours nonstop and I just need to whine about it or vent about it. Yeah, that’s always like super therapeutic too. So just talking about something else while in the middle of like doing something stressful.

Lesley [00:38:04] Yeah. Definitely talking it out. It’s just- it gets that everything off your chest. It really feels a lot better if you do that.

Aurthi [00:38:12] Yeah. My mom had to hear a lot about it in my PA school. I’d be like, yeah, we have like three hundred fifty pages of notes to study for this pathology exam coming up in two days. She’s like, how far you? I’m like page fifty. She says, okay, let’s talk about something else then. I think like talking about it. And then like realistically, like you’re going to cover the information or like the test is going to come and you’re going to hopefully do well. But like stressing about it is just like adding to more stress. Like you have the stress of the exam itself. Why add more to it? So.

Lesley [00:38:42] And often overwhelming yourself with stress is less productive too, because then you just you’re so fixated on how stressed you are that you don’t actually end up doing the work or the studying.

Aurthi [00:38:52] And it’s like a vicious cycle after that. So I just- I think- in kin we learn something that’s going to sound super nerdy. I think it’s like call the Yerkes Dodson law or something. So it’s specifically for sports performance. But it’s basically this graph that says, like, you need some level of stress or anxiety to perform well because it shows that you care and it shows that this is something you want to do well in. But it has to be like the optimal level of anxiety so that you’re performing well, but it’s not hindering your performance. So I- like- every time you’re stressed as students, it’s good like you care, you want to do well, but use that to your advantage to make your- perform better instead of it again, as you were saying, like negatively affecting your performance where you’re stressing about stressing about it. And it’s just a vicious cycle after that.

Lesley [00:39:40] Yeah, that definitely makes sense to me because it’s all about how you manage that stress, like it should be there if you care about something. But it doesn’t have to get to the point where you’re feeling overwhelmed by it or it’s impacting the way you do something.

Aurthi [00:39:55] Exactly.

Lesley [00:39:56] Definitely. What would you say is one of- one or the key to your success in school, whether it was in your undergrad or just everything in general?

Aurthi [00:40:11] One would be hard. If I could list a few is that okay?

Lesley [00:40:14] Yeah, definitely.

Aurthi [00:40:16] Yeah. So I think I would say it’s different for undergrad and PA school just because of the type of program and where I was at that stage of my life. So undergrad, I would say coming out of high school, going into undergrad, just staying disciplined. I know like in first year of undergrad you have like a lot of distractions, like all these different clubs you can join. Being on res is like like fun experience. But it’s also super distracting when you’re trying to study, though. So being disciplined, that’s something that I found helpful in undergrad and then having motivating friends. So like you have like- I think whoever you surround yourself with is how you’re going to be motivated as well. And all the people I’ve surrounded myself with ended up going to med school. So they were super driven and they were super prioritizing school, but also like going out once in a while. So I think maintaining that balance. So I would definitely say my social circle and lastly, my extracurriculars. So in undergrad, playing tennis like, yes, it was good to maintain that school life balance, but I learned a lot of transferable skills from tennis and varsity tennis specifically that I apply to academics as well. So like the work ethic, when things are hard, if you just work on what you need to work on. So if one day my backhand is not working, then I would just focus on that. But I know my other strengths are good. So in biology, if I’m not understanding a specific topic or specific concept then I would focus on that instead of something I’m already comfortable with. So that’d be like a good example. And then just like time management and confidence and leadership skills that I took from tennis, that I applied to academics and extracurriculars like other like Habitat for- Habitat for Humanity was like another club that I joined. And just like the confidence you get from playing a sport or any other extracurriculars, you can apply that in an academic setting. So that’s something. And then as a PA student I think it shifted. So I didn’t have tennis as much, like I still had the history, but I think it was more my work ethic. So despite how much like all the dense material, like all the coursework and all the other assignments and everything that we had to- we had to cover in a short period of time, I think my work ethic was like, you know, just keep up with the material and just always kind of keep at it and not kind of getting deterred by all the overwhelming work and all the stress, I think that was helpful. My passion for both medicine, but also the profession. So in Canada PA is actually a growing profession. In Canada. So I think if you’re joining the program here, you also- you’re automatically an advocate to advocate for the profession. So I found that to be helpful. And that’s part of the reason why I started sharing my journey on Instagram, because it advocates for the profession. It advocates for the journey through PA school so other pre PAs get inspired and or even get to know more about it. So I found that to be that passion to help motivate me.

Lesley [00:43:15] Yeah, definitely.

Aurthi [00:43:16] So to be successful and then I guess just like PA mentor. So I had a lot of mentorship in PA school compared to undergrad where I had people I could ask questions, bounce ideas off of. And I was fortunate enough to have those mentors guide me through PA school. And probably because it’s such a small community here and onwards, I’d probably still, you know, ask for advice from those mentors and hopefully become a mentor myself for any PA students or pre PAs.

Lesley [00:43:42] That’s something- that mentorship is something that I’ve heard a lot with a lot of students who are in clinical kind of based programs like nurses and dental assistant and that kind of stuff is a lot of one of the most common things that people say is that mentorship is so important, not even- like, one for the encouragement and the inspiration, but also too because of the networking value and just getting in there and talking to someone who has been in your shoes and who started from where you are and now works in that practical setting. Or even if they’re just an older student, someone who has had that experience already and can tell you and help you figure out if this like if you’re doing- if you’re making the right choice, because a lot of the time, especially with a practical field, you can’t- it’s a different experience to learn about it in the classroom than it is to actually go and be out there in that clinical setting and realize like, oh, this is what I’m getting myself into.

Aurthi [00:44:45] Yeah, no, I agree with everything you said, like, I think mentorship is more than just like getting help. It’s about like meeting people and sometimes, like your mentor knows someone they can connect you to and then you meet them and then they come with a unique set of skills, knowledge and experience that you can learn from. And it’s just like a I guess like a positive reinforcement cycle. So when you get mentored, like you are tempted, you’re inspired to mentor people and then it just keeps going. And I think the PA community in Canada, specifically because it’s such a small community, mentorship is definitely a big factor in getting pre PAs or getting PA students to successfully finish PA school and also be successful in their career.

Lesley [00:45:28] Yeah, and just building that passion for people who feel that passion for that, because I feel like that’s- like what you were saying, how that- the fact that it is a growing industry and people are kind of step up, most students are kind of stepping into the whole advocate advocacy role is really helpful to build that passion and to know like this is this is what I want to do. It makes you feel really good about making that choice.

Aurthi [00:45:53] Exactly. And even in hindsight, like, once you get into PA school, you see all these pre PAs who would do anything to be in your shoes, to be that PA student. And you’re like, meanwhile, you’re like, wow PA school is super stressful. But like there are all these people who would be in my shoes and it kind of motivates you to like, make them proud, but make yourself proud and push through those adversities that you face. So, yeah, I think it’s it’s definitely a positive thing and like a positive reinforcement cycle.

Lesley [00:46:19] And a really rewarding outcome, I’m sure, too, especially when you built that. Awesome. What is one of your favorite memories so far from either whether you want to talk about one from undergrad or PA school is up to you?

Aurthi [00:46:37] I would say- so, I guess this is not academic, but I really enjoyed my varsity tennis experience. I really like that, like how it supplemented my academic career or my academic time at Western. And actually what was super memorable is my last year I got the opportunity to captain the team and we actually won provincials that year. So it was like a great way to finish. So I think that’s probably would be my topic in that sense. Academically, I would say like that ah-ha moment, that epiphany I had when I found the PA profession, because it definitely motivated me to finish undergrad, but it still continues to motivate me to finish PA school and like find a job and do well as a PA. So I think I like when I found, like the PA profession I called my mom, I’m like, this can’t be real. Like, this is too good to be true. So. And she’s like, no, I haven’t heard of a PA. What do you mean? But it’s amazing. In the four years since that I’ve had that epiphany, like PAs are way more established now.

Lesley [00:47:38] Yeah.

Aurthi [00:47:39] So, yeah, I think that would be like my academic favourite memorable moment.

Lesley [00:47:45] I mean that is a pretty memorable moment because it helped to shape your career, right? So definitely unforgettable. Another question that we always ask our student influencers is if you could go back and talk to your 15 year old self, what would you say or what- what advice would you give?

Aurthi [00:48:07] I would say, I guess don’t settle or follow the path that everyone, I guess, takes. I think I mentioned earlier that medical school was something that I’ve always been told that I should pursue or like it’s the most popular option if you’re someone interested in the sciences. But I would tell my 15 year old self to kind of be patient and like not hesitate to explore my options. So, like, even even now, like back then, definitely. But even now I have people around me saying like, oh, like you should definitely pursue medical school. And I think back then I was a bit more hesitant or a bit more vulnerable to those kind of opinions. But now I’m like, no, no, no, this is it. This is like what I want. So I guess just going back and giving that reassurance to my 15 year old self to trust the process and that eventually I will find- I will find what I would want to do and what aligns with my interests and goals.

Lesley [00:49:02] It’s definitely pressure that you hear a lot of students facing is like their parents want them to be a doctor or a lawyer or some some kind of, you know, big time career like that and they’re like, well, no, I want to do this. And it’s it’s a really hard conversation sometimes, especially depending on the approach that your parents have as well.

Aurthi [00:49:21] Yeah, no. And I think like culturally like having immigrant parents, like, they definitely want what’s best for me. And even though I moved here when I was four, like, my parents definitely had to make a lot of sacrifices to come to Canada and prioritize our education. So when they hear their child saying, oh, I’m just going to do a degree in kinesiology they’re like, what do you mean you’re not going to medical school? But it’s I guess like- and looking back now, my dad is- my dad was actually the hardest to convince. So that’s why I say my dad’s been telling our relatives and family, friends like you should definitely consider kinesiology. It’s a great profession. And then like physician assistant now. So I guess it’s good to see that change like my dad’s like thought process. But it’s definitely I agree with you like having that conversation with your with your parents to not just convince them that it’s like a good career option, but like let them know that you could be successful as a kin or as a PA. And I’m lucky enough in that both professions have actually boosted in the last few years and become more well established. But regardless if you’re passionate about something like have that conversation and kind of follow your- follow your heart as cheesy as that sounds.

Lesley [00:50:31] No, it’s true, though. There’s a reason people say it very often.

Aurthi [00:50:36] Yeah.

Lesley [00:50:37] So, yeah, that’s I mean, that’s helpful for anybody. I don’t think it matters what program you’re studying or even what background you have.

Aurthi [00:50:45] Yeah. Because I think like with passion comes like, like good work and like talent. So if you’re passionate about something it’s probably because you’re good at it or you’re interested in it and then that means you’ll be good at that job. So like your- your performance is going to be great. You’re going to do well in it versus something that you’re going into because someone else is telling you to go into it and you’re like you’re unsure, you’re like half heartedly choosing to go into this profession and then you end up like, not doing so well. So I think in the long run, if you look at it, if you’re passionate about something, you’re going to do better than no matter what career choice that is, you’re going to probably perform well and do well overall.

Lesley [00:51:23] Yeah. Like no one wants to be treated by a doctor who never wanted to be there in the first place and like-.

Aurthi [00:51:28] Exactly.

Lesley [00:51:28] And like didn’t really want to get involved like that wouldn’t make me feel very comfortable as a patient.

Aurthi [00:51:35] Exactly, yeah, so, yeah, you need to you need to love your job in order to do well in your job and take care of your patient. So, yeah, in that case, I guess- and that’s the thing. You want to practice medicine, you want to see patients, but then do you want to be a doctor or do you want to be the PA or do you want to be the MP? You want to be the nurse? There’s so many options that people usually don’t consider. They’re like, OK, medicine, OK, med school, like immediately.

Lesley [00:51:59] Yeah, OK, doctor.

Aurthi [00:52:02] Exactly. So I think just realizing that there’s so many more career options, like I’m still discovering new careers as I go through and you know, as I go through the clinical setting, I’m like- I think SLP was like a new one I discovered in undergrad where you don’t learn about it much. But I had a friend who wanted to be an SLP and actually encountering an SLP in undergrad and then working alongside one during my clerkship here I’m like, oh, so this is what SLPs do and knowing what their expertize is so that you can use it in your practice as a future clinician. But yeah, so many unique opportunities out there or career options out there.

Lesley [00:52:38] An SLP is as a speech language pathologist?

Aurthi [00:52:40] Speech language pathologist, sorry. Yes.

Lesley [00:52:42] No, that’s what I thought and I don’t even know how I knew that. But I thought I should probably know. Awesome. So what advice would you give to someone who might be just starting university this year? I know it’s a tricky year to ask that.

Aurthi [00:53:02] That too. The online learning and everything, right?

Lesley [00:53:04] Yeah.

Aurthi [00:53:05] I guess I would say, like, don’t stress yourself thinking about, like, the ultimate end goal or your dream job just yet. Like it’s OK to know that like things are going to be uncertain for a few for a while, because you’re just taking these courses, I think, especially transitioning from high school to undergrad, but we said earlier it’s super difficult and it’s- on its own, that adding that extra stress about, OK, what am I trying to accomplish with this paid education is not going to really help your performance. So I would say I would encourage students to explore their options, take courses that interest them and find things that you’re, like, intrinsically motivated or intrinsically interested in instead of things that you’re like, OK, yeah I like sciences. Maybe I’ll just take biology, chemistry or physics. So that’s something. And then marks. I think a lot of students put stress on marks. They’re like all grades are important. This is like this is what’s going to determine whether I get into that school or whether I get into any program. But I think if you’re passionate about what you’re learning and if you like, again, pace yourself and learn efficiently, you start early, you’re not cramming, then usually the results will come. And as you go through undergrad, you’ll become more experienced as a student as well and as a learner. So the marks will definitely come. And yeah, I think like enjoy the university experience, like now that I’m finished PA school, I’m like, man, I’m like, that’s it. I’m done being a student unless I pursue like a masters or something. But it’s still never going to be that undergrad experience where you get the opportunity to live on res and live off campus, but still close to close to university, but sometimes like even away from family and that you’re learning all these real life skills where you can’t be like, mom, do my laundry or things like that. So when you come home, actually when you’re away from university and you come home, you get treated super special.

Lesley [00:55:02] Yeah, you come home on the weekend and everyone’s so excited to see you. Everyone wants to hang out with you and like have you over for dinner.

Aurthi [00:55:09] Right? Yeah. I really enjoyed that. Yeah. So I think university experience as a whole is like super memorable and it’s- on itself. So don’t stress about grades, don’t stress about the end goal. Everything will kind of fall into place.

Lesley [00:55:23] Definitely. I think that’s some pretty sound advice that most students would benefit from. So thank you for sharing that.

Aurthi [00:55:30] Of course.

Lesley [00:55:32] Another thing we kind of like to ask as we round get closer to the end of the interviews is if you have a favorite motivational quote that you would like to share.

Aurthi [00:55:44] I really like this one quote by Muhammad Ali. I think it goes, I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion or something like that, like I had it, like I had a poster of Muhammad Ali above my desk when I started in PA school. And I’m like, yes, exactly like I’m suffering now so I live like as a great PA later on. But yeah, like this quote speaks to my, I guess, mentality in all aspects of life. So again, like when I was studying in PA school or school in general or even training on the tennis court as a competitor like I truly believe in like if you put in the work and make the sacrifices in your present situation, then you get to enjoy all the successes in the long run. That being said, the grind never ends and I think- I think it’s just like the extent of the sacrifices you make when you’re younger, you have to make all these sacrifices and then you get to live like a good life later on. So that’s something that I think that quote speaks to.

Lesley [00:56:51] I think that’s true. Like, the grind never, never stops, but it changes and the reward changes. And once you reach one thing- and it should always be like that because the like for most of the time, every- every- every stage of your life is you working hard toward a goal. And when there’s no goal, no next goal, it’s kind of like you kind of lose the meaning of why you’re doing something right.

Aurthi [00:57:22] No, I totally agree. And I think. Yeah, and I think like when you make those sacrifices earlier on in your life, you get that ultimate reward of landing a good career. And then after that, everything, I guess, is relatively not as big an incentive. But sometimes people do have that like that big reward later on in their life. And that’s cool as well. But I’m saying I think you always have to make those sacrifices in your present situation. And the extent of that kind of varies as you go down.

Lesley [00:57:50] Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be like these huge, massive goals every single time. But it could be like, OK, I got my- I got the job I really wanted, now my goal is to work really hard at that job and either, I don’t know, get a promotion or move up here or even just doesn’t even have to be that big of a deal either. Just something-

Aurthi [00:58:13] Even something small, like even like getting a pat on the back by your supervising physician because you did so well or catching like a unique case and diagnosing it properly, it could be something super small like that, but it’s rewarding nonetheless. But again, you’re not sacrificing so much.

Lesley [00:58:28] No. And you’re not spending 10 hours a day studying for it anymore. And you’re just kind of working working toward it at a- at a pace that’s different or that works for you.

Aurthi [00:58:39] Exactly.

Lesley [00:58:40] Definitely. So we like to end each interview with a more fun kind of question. And that is what is your favorite social media platform and why?

Aurthi [00:58:53] So I guess it’s Instagram now. As much as I was late to the party to join Instagram. It’s been a great platform for me to share my journey through PA school because I think it’s like a good mix of like visually appealing, but also interactive, like the insta stories. And I think the audience also perceives this as the best platform because I’ve tried like blogs and different things and Instagram seems to be doing the best in terms of audience receiving the information. So on my Insta I try to share my major milestones, completing a rotation or like finishing PA school, that was a major milestone for me and then I share some, like, updates on insta stories and I do this interactive case based learning where it’s called Test Day Tuesday. And like everyone’s like all my followers will be like, OK, I’m just going to like, learn as I just answer this question wrong or right or just to- I think that makes them interactive. And then focusing on the visual aspect of it is- is super great about Instagram. And yeah, I would say that’s probably my favorite social media platform for that reason.

Lesley [00:59:59] Definitely. Do you want to share your Instagram handle here so that our followers can follow you as well?

Aurthi [01:00:04] Sure. So for anyone listening, if you want to follow along, my Instagram handle is So A-U-R-T-H-I dot PA.

Lesley [01:00:15] We’ll post that in the description as well and will take you when we publish the entries so people can find you can go and see your content. So before we wrap up, do you have any final insights that you want to- I know we’ve shared a lot of really great insights, but you have anything else, any final things you want to say before we wrap up?

Aurthi [01:00:36] Yeah, I guess just trust the process and things will fall in place. Like, I think certain times will be uncertain, but certain times will be. But the things that things will eventually fall into place and I guess this statement applies no matter what stage of education you’re in. I do want to wish all the listeners good luck with your students and enjoy the journey.

Lesley [01:01:01] Definitely, that’s a great- great point to leave off on. All of the insights you’ve shared today have been super, super helpful. And I think that any listeners, especially those who are going into PA school, but I think all of our listeners in general will get a lot of great value from that. So I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk to me and to share all of that with me today.

Aurthi [01:01:29] Thank you for the interview.

Lesley [01:01:30] Thank you so much.