First Week of PA School


Officially started school at McMaster University in the Physician Assistant Education Program! I am excited to share with you some memorable events that happened during my first week of school!

Here I covered my first day of school, my new classmates, the PA Welcome BBQ, my first problem-based learning tutorial, the mask fit testing and just a snippet of my favourite spot on campus.


Officially Badged!

First impressions are very important! Although there was no specified dress code, I decided to wear a semi casual outfit for my first day. I wore a black sleeveless top tucked into a black and white skirt. I made sure I was at the meeting room at least 5 minutes early as well. My class consists of 24 students. When I first walked into the room, I was somewhat intimidated by my classmates, mostly because I assumed most have already made friends. I took an empty seat and sat there quietly, trying to gather up some courage to introduce myself to them.

Introductions started with a welcome gift: a name badge with our program name and a USB key with our Program Package on it. We had a round table intro stating our name, where we did our undergrad and a fun fact. After the introductions, I felt more comfortable starting conversations with my classmates because I now know their name and something interesting about them.

Classmates: New Friends

I really like my classmates 🙂 They are all very friendly and supportive of each other. For example, some of us are new to McMaster and have no idea where we are going. Classmates who previously attended school at McMaster showed us around the student centre, campus store and how to take the Go Bus.

I like how our class has people from different provinces in Canada with different educational backgrounds. We have someone who did their undergrad in Forensic Science, two were paramedics and one was a radiation therapist, just to name a few. We are just a variety of people united in one profession ❤ Surprised to see that only 1/3 of my class are males!

Here’s a picture of some of the girls and I sitting with William McMaster 🙂


Welcome BBQ

A BBQ dinner was set up for us by the program office so that we could meet our student advisors (PA’s in the work field who had graduated from McMaster University), program staff and our tutors. I was very happy to know that my student advisor is the very same person who was there at the beginning of my PA journey. He took the time to meet up with me to tell me about his career and the program itself. I really appreciate him answering all the questions I had!

I was also able to meet several other interesting people. There was a PA I talked to who currently works in family medicine and the level of autonomy she has is amazing! She told us it really depends on your experience, comfort level and the agreed delegation between her and her supervising doctor. Also, in the field of family medicine, she was able to see a lot of different patient cases. I sat down with the PA Program Head of Admissions. She and her husband were super nice letting me know what’s good in Hamilton. We also talked a bit about the MMI for the program.

The First Medical Foundation Tutorial

In our tutorial groups of 8, we were given a case of a patient with shortness of breath who had recently been discharged from the hospital after being confined in bed for four months due to a motor vehicle accident that broke his lower leg. Our tutor supervised our discussion as we tried to understand the problem and determine what was happening to this patient (problem-based learning style, PBL). I have never done any PBL before so this was all new to me. I will report back maybe at the end of the term to let you know how I find it 🙂

On a side note, I was really thankful that I volunteered at the Grace Health Centre this past summer. I remember I prepped a patient’s vitals and he told me that he came in because he was experiencing shortness of breath. He had a chest x-ray and a test for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) done to see if he has a pulmonary embolism causing his shortness of breath. I remember specifically going up to ask the doctor what DVT stood for…and ahhh it’s all coming together now because our group discussed the possibility of our case patient having a pulmonary embolism. It’s so cool to see something I learned at the clinic helped me bring useful information to my group in tutorial.

Mask Fit Testing

Photo on 2014-09-05 at 12.50 PM
No shame on my selfie game in the library

When working in a health care setting, health care workers may be exposed to certain epidemics like SARS and H1N1. Therefore, we had to be mask-fitted and trained on how to properly put respirators on and off. The one we were fitted for was the N95 respirator. This mask protects us from inhaling harmful dusts, fumes and gases and filters 95% of airborne particulates.

The trainers had to make sure we could taste “bitter” so they sprayed this “bitter” solution into our mouth. I was expecting the bitter taste from Chinese medicine but it was actually more like a weird tingling sensation at the back of my tongue.

 Beautiful Campus

PANO_20140905_113509I cannot get enough of this campus! It is just so beautiful! I love the buildings, but especially this Atrium in the Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery. The atmosphere is very calming and the air is fresh, maybe due to the live growing trees planted in here.

I did not get a chance to take a picture of the library but even if I did, it would not have done it justice. The library I am referring to is the one in the Health Sciences Centre. It has two floors, numerous study tables (self/group), computers (a lot more than UW has) and an area with a ceiling-to-floor glass window that allows natural light to come in. How can you not be motivated to study in this space?


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