Why PA Students Should Attend the AAPA Conference

July 1, 2019
As a second-year student nearing the end of my clinical year, I’m nervous and excited to join the profession I’ve committed myself to for the last two years. As I (and my fellow PA students) embark on this journey, many of us have unanswered questions about what comes after school: Where will I live? Where will I work? What kind of job do I want? When should I take the PANCE? Will I pass? How am I going to pay off my loans? We may not have the answers, but attending the AAPA conference was a great way to get a taste of what life will be like after we graduate—we got some of these questions answered, and it was an excellent event to celebrate our chosen profession.

One of the main things that initially attracted me to becoming a PA was the ability to continually learn and evolve with medicine. There is always something new—new techniques, new drugs, new research, and information that may be old to some people but new to others. The AAPA conference is an extraordinary resource for students and working PAs to participate in this evolution and further their knowledge.

I was impressed by the variety of learning opportunities at the conference, from lectures to the booths at the exhibit hall. The exhibit hall showcased vendors talking about pharmaceuticals, job opportunities, and new technologies. I met representatives from companies that place PAs in locum tenens positions, and I learned about new drugs and newly available screening tests. A range of lectures provided us with new information on some topics and were a good study review on others. In one day, I attended lectures on COPD, respiratory failure, anti-obesity medications, and bariatric surgery while my classmates attended others. There were also special events, including courses about ultrasounds and reading EKGs, the opening reception, and meetings where representatives voted on policy changes. We split up for these events and, at the end of the day, shared the highlights of what we learned.

Ultrasound instructor teaching PA student to use an ultrasound at 2019 AAPA conference
Idaho State University student Michael Stowell, right, learns and practices ultrasound skills in the “Yes, I Scan” course

My classmates from Idaho State University also provided a small community within the conference (over 7,500 people attended!) and it really showed how AAPA is a place for a reunion. We caught up with each other and our professors who we haven’t seen much over the past year. We shared our experiences (good and bad) and our plans for the future. We also met and made connections with other students and professionals within the PA community.

Idaho State University PA students at the 2019 AAPA conference
Idaho State University PA students (from left to right) Greg Smith, Dove Rainbow, Erika Fulop, Alexa Brooks, Meaghan Nelson, & Michael Stowell in front of the “big blue bear”—the go-to meeting spot

The general session summarized what to expect throughout the weekend and celebrated what AAPA has been doing both nationally and statewide. It also was the platform for an inspiring keynote speaker, Allison Massari, who shared her experience as a patient. She highlighted how significant of a difference the simplest gestures can make. No matter which states, specialties, or schools people were from, there was a common bond between everyone because we’re all part of this community.

I really appreciate Rosh Review for helping students like myself attend the conference. There were students everywhere! At every event, I saw people with “Student” printed on their AAPA badges buzzing around from the career fair to the exhibit hall. But student participation was definitely most evident at the Challenge Bowl on Monday night. The energy there felt like a taping of The Price is Right or a college sporting event. The fans were wild, and the atmosphere was electric—there was music, dancing sharks, and cheering; the audience was even doing the wave! The participating teams were incredibly fast at responding to the questions. The competition was intense, and the teams’ practicing paid off, as they were practically predicting the next questions. I couldn’t help but be inspired to work harder when I watched my peers showcase what they had worked for all year.

Through their scholarship, Rosh Review is inspiring students and future professionals to attend and be involved in the AAPA. Students are the future of the profession, and attending the conference before we even have careers will keep us involved in continuing education, policy, and furthering the profession. I can speak for myself and my classmates and say that we were inspired and are already planning on attending future AAPA conferences! Denver was the first one of many.

Other blogs that might interest you:

How To Increase Your PANCE or PANRE Score By 100 Points
How To Rock Your Clinical Rotations and End of Your Rotation Exams
PANCE Review and PANRE Review Prep Tips
Pummel the PANCE series
Rock Your Rotation Exam
The PANCE Study Plan They Don’t Teach You in PA School
Why You’re Mentally Ready to Take the PANCE

By Meaghan Nelson, PA-S

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