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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Treat Patients NOT numbers

This term we have a radiology course, which has to be one of my favorite classes at PCOM.  We have been taught different sections from many health care providers in the area.  Each teacher has lectured to us the Dos and Don’ts when reading an image from their own experiences and how they came to “master” films in their respective fields.  Each comes with a more fascinating story than the next.  I have learned so much in this class; it really is amazing.  I remember looking at my first chest x-ray and thinking that I only knew one thing: where the heart was.  I have to say I felt pretty dumb, but our teachers assured us that they were not expecting us to be experts.  In just a few months I can now say that I feel confident that I can read x-rays and CT scans.  While I am in no way an expert, I feel I at least know the anatomy and the correct approach as to avoid missing essential details and diagnoses.  I also know to always look for the most common fracture, THE SECOND ONE!  I know that reading images will be critical when going on rotations.  Having this skill will hopefully impress preceptors and maybe help save a life.
Many times on tests and quizzes I can identify the fracture or the correct location of pneumonia on x-ray but the question may state: “what would you expect to see on this patient?”  These used to be the hardest questions for me to answer.  Sometimes we tend to forget that this radiograph belongs to someone who needs our help.  It is not just a picture, just like lab values are not just numbers.  All these tests and images to help aid in diagnosis and further treatment our patient.
This has been a recurrent theme at PCOM in general, not just radiology – “Always treat the patient, not numbers.”  It is really simple but something we tend to overlook.  I hope that if you are in PA school, nursing school, medical school or in any health profession that you remember this and never forget it!  I know I won’t.


  1. I'm so glad I ended up here on your blog through the PA forum ... It's really cool reading about your experience first-hand as a PA student. I was wondering actually if I could get some advice though.

    I'm really interested in PCOM's PA program, and I would like to apply for the 2013 academic year (I'm currently still a student ... I'll be a senior this upcoming year).

    But the problem is ... I have a quite low gpa. I can get it up to about 3.11 at best by the time I graduate. What I'm wondering is, is there any hope for me? Or do you think I should just end up striving for something else?
    I really want to be a PA ... It's a dream of mine. But sometimes, it seems so farfetched. What do you think? Do you have any tips for me?

  2. Hi Andrew,
    Sorry, we were at the AAPA Conference in Las Vegas so I did not have internet. Why dont you send me a message at PA forum and I can respond to you there. Jen

  3. Hi Andrew,

    My advice would be to not give up. Instead try to bring your GPA up as high as you can, but also do other things like increase your health care experience hours, shadow some more PAs. Stuff like that is great on an application. Its not all about grades. The way I always used to think, and I am not sure how true this is, but I always felt that my goal was to just get an interview. I knew that if I got that interview that I now had the control. Getting an interview to me meant that I and had already beaten the whole "numbers game." My GPA was not high either and I ended up getting 4 interviews out of 8 schools I applied. After that you do your best to rock your interview.

    So, never give up on your dream, nothing is too farfetched. The worst thing you can do is give up and never try. If you end up not getting in your first time around find out what you need to do to get in the next year. Lots of schools will give you some advice. Good luck!

  4. Hey Jen,

    Sorry about the late response ... I've been pretty busy lately.
    I tried to send you another message via the forum, but I don't know what your user name is!

    And I'm guessing that this is the forum you're referring too, right?

    Just making sure,
    Andrew Choi

  5. Actually, after backtracking a bit on the forum, I found your username. I sent you a message!

    Thanks so much for the help,