Maren Hackbusch, PA-C, MPH is an alumna in the Touro University California’s MSPAS/MPH Program.
We asked Maren to reflect back to her time here at Touro and to answer a few questions such as: What worked for you? What didn’t? What do you wish you knew now before you started? Any tips to recommend to the incoming class? Or to those going on rotations?
- Take some time off! Go on a “school”moon! In hindsight, one of the most valuable pieces of advice someone gave to me was to take a vacation before going into graduate school. I know you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have money to go on vacation; I have school to pay for!” But, in the long run, not only are you giving your brain one last “hurrah” before a 3 or 4-year-long, intense program, but $1-2K is not going to make a difference when you have over $$$K of loans. School will be expensive, but it is an investment, and your mental health is worth more.
- Spend as much time as you can with your friends and family now! Don’t wait until tomorrow. Because before you know it, you’ll be studying 24/7 and your mom will wonder if you’re still alive since you’ve missed all her phone calls since you were stuck in a dead zone at the library.
- Good study habits are key! What helped me was to continuously study. Even if an exam was several weeks out, I made it a point to review the material we covered in class that day. Repetition is key. However, it must be conscious studying! If you find yourself getting distracted or just not focusing, take a break (or, several breaks!) and get back into it. Bottom line: Quality over quantity.
- For me, studying in a group or with a partner was helpful. You do have to find that one person/person(s) with whom you click, but once you do, it’s great because you can feed off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It also helps if you teach each other things as it really solidifies the concepts.
- Sometimes, it may be helpful to utilize your outside resources. Example: I would watch YouTube animations to understand pharmacology, or write condensed notes to emphasize things that did not seem intuitive to me, including using mnemonics, or a different color.
- DO YOUR OBJECTIVES!
- Ask for help. You have a great support system around you: faculty, mentors, academic support, family, friends. Ask for help.
- Did I mention, DO YOUR OBJECTIVES!
- You move . . . a LOT! Use your connections! Reach out to your classmates, alumni, family/friends; find out where others have stayed. No use reinventing the wheel to find a new place to stay when your classmate may have stayed there last semester.
- Imagine yourself as a sponge. Soak up all the new information by asking questions. Keep your eyes and ears open. There is never a stupid question. Remember, questions lead to answers which leads to learning.
Maren graduated with the class of 2015 and is now happily working as a PA-C in Family Practice.