Mental Health Reflection for PA Students

Mental Health Reflection for PA Students During COVID-19

Since COVID-19 has taken its reign over the globe, we've learned quite a few things through this unprecented experience. Essentially, the human experience has evolved from this pandemic by showing us how much value we bring to this earth. Our eyes have been opened to the inextricable need we have for one another. Our bodies may be potential hosts to spreading the virus, but we can also spread love, kindness & positivity. Use this time for reflection of your contribution and the life that you are living. Slow down & finally hear yourself again. The universe is always speaking to us if we are willing to listen.




You’re not alone. It’s ok to not be okay. We don’t have to be going 100% full speed every single day. Take some time for yourself. Take a break from technology. Take a walk. Smile, wave to yourself in the mirror, laugh. Dress up, even if it’s just for yourself to look and feel good. Be here, just as you are. You will have some good days, some bad days, and that’s the natural flow of life even without the pandemic upon us. Sleep in when you feel you need it. Catch up on that show you love. Let yourself just be. Don’t judge yourself. Most importantly, be calm and patient with yourself during this time.  Allow yourself to do something that you love each day, even if it’s for a short period. Do not feel guilty that you should be studying. At times, it feels like no matter how much you study, there is always going to be more. When you are tired, take it as a sign to rest, not to quit. Take a moment to check in with yourself and see what you need. Just take it day by day and don’t forget to take care of yourself, your health & well-being.




Feelings have a beginning, middle, and end. They are temporary. It is ok to feel human because that is your super power- to just feel. When you have an emotion, recognize it, invite it in, feel it, and give it permission to leave. That temporary feeling does not define who you are, your potential or what you are capable of doing. Do not bottle up how you feel. Talk about it to a therapist, a friend a family member, or write about it. Find your form of expression.




Anxiety is such a common symptom, but elicits a rush of emotions and triggers running through our bodies when we feel it. Anxiety is something we create. Fear is something we create. You are in control of your perspective. You are bigger than what is making you anxious. Try to see situations that make you uncomfortable as opportunities to empower growth.




This unprecedented time can present a new opportunity to build meaningful connections with mentors, peers, & faculty members who have dedicated themselves to your growth. Take a moment to check what resources are available to you, both academically and emotionally. Keeping contact with professors, peers and other faculty members can be a great way to maintain not only professional connections, but to create even stronger ones now because after all, we are all in this together. Your mentors want to see you do well; do not let those connections fade because of COVID. The connections you build now can be long lasting and meaningful, given that this pandemic will remain a huge part of history.




Beyond doubt, there are constant moments of stress, anxiety, fear, and grief through experiencing this pandemic, but you can rely on your strengths to lead you & guide you to where you need to be. No one can do this for you. You must continue to rely on your determination, compassion, tenacity, patience, dedication, and professionalism (just to list a few). You have demonstrated incredible resilience. Take a moment to honor yourself and how far you’ve come.


Now that the world has slowed down, we are in a privileged position to be PA students. We are privileged to be next in line to serve the public with our newly acquired medical knowledge. Find what excites you in medicine, find what drives you and don’t lose sight of that bigger picture to get you to your end goal. You are going to be a clinician and provider. The days that you are freaking out, losing hope or thinking that you cannot get through this, don’t forget the bigger picture- that you are giving yourself to medicine, to healing and to treating people that look to you for hope, safety, and answers.


There are patients waiting for your empathy, care, and emotional strength and support. Stay committed, focused, have a strong positive mentality, stay organized, practice good time management, find balance, and don’t lose sight of your true self during this process. I believe in you.  Now all you need to do is believe in yourself.


Melissa Lilian Elist is currently a physician assistant student at University of California, Davis, cohort of 2021. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and an emphasis in Disability Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. She is a preventative care advocate and is very proactive in mindfulness, consciousness, and self-love. You can find Melissa on Instagram @melissaelist or reach her via email at


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