The first half of this summer I worked as a graduate assistant for the physical therapy department. The course I helped out with was Human Gross Anatomy and it was seven weeks long; I had a wonderful time and learned so many things.
First….It is really hard to learn names…I now have sympathy for my professors when they mix up my name! It is so hard to learn fifty-three people’s names!
Second….I have a huge appreciation for the human body….getting to experience cadaver dissection for the second time, I understand structures so much better and really get to see how muscles and movements can apply clinically. It makes you amazed that we can do all the things we do on a regular basis and not get confused or lost! Also, it was a great opportunity to take a look at the material a second time. I feel like I have such a better grasp on things because of all the extra time I’ve spent on human anatomy.
Third…You get to know your professors on a different level… as a graduate assistant you are given more responsibility and that leads to the professors knowing you better. You get to chat with your professors about their families, kids, and their lives outside of the classroom setting!
Fourth….If you ever thought about teaching this is the perfect practice…a graduate assistant position teaches you how to grade, what it is like to create a test, what it is like to try and please fifty-three people at once and how to deal with students who just don’t seem motivated to be in class. All these experiences will be great moving forward as I can see myself teaching in the future.
Fifth…You learn quickly that you don’t know everything and sometimes that is ok…I will be 100% honest, I don’t know everything and sometimes when we are identifying structures I have to look things up. What I have come to realize is that understanding the limits to your knowledge is a skill in and of itself. If you don’t remember something it’s ok, being able to know where to find the information and being responsible enough to follow through with an answer is just as important then knowing it in the first place.
Sixth…I have gotten to know some awesome people…all the students that I have met have been great people; they are all so funny, a bit quiet, but all are unique and awesome individuals. It is rewarding to feel like you are helping them along in their journey though grad school.
Seven…It is a paid position!! Always a plus!
Regardless of what department you’re in, I would highly recommend applying for a graduate assistant position.