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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rural PA for Family Medicine

I hope all my readers had a nice Thanksgiving! It felt great coming home in the middle of my rotation to see family. I am currently in LaPorte, PA working at Sullivan County Medical Center. I must be one of the luckiest girls on the planet because this is the third rotation that I absolutely LOVE! For those who have never heard of LaPorte, it has a little over 300 people in the population. Some would say that this would make the rotation boring; on the contrary, I find it a perfect place to learn. While I am a second year PA student, I still find that I have a lot more learning to do, working in a more slow paced environment allows me to learn techniques correctly. The small town atmosphere is a definite adjustment, I am about 45 minutes away from everything: grocery store, shopping mall, and chain branch restaurants. What I love about this area is its simplicity. Many that live here do not earn a large amount of money, however, they are a very giving community. Many times I have been asked by patients to come to their homes for dinner or to celebrate a birthday. The staff has also been given many delicious desserts and presents from patients. LaPorte is located in the woods so many patients come in with stories of bear hunting and deer spotting. One patient even named and feeds a few black bears each year. She took a picture after she fed three bears sitting at a picnic table. Sounds like some fairytale story I know :). I have personally seen a total of 4 bears (mom and three cubs) and probably 12 deer in a total of 2 weeks.

Two weeks ago there was a health fair that we were involved in at the local high school. We gave the entire community free immunizations. I must have given 50+ shots that day, which was great practice for me. While my encounters with “patients” were short I was still told a little of their life story and always told thank you after giving them their shot.

In this rotation I have also had the pleasure of working with 4th year medical students from PCOM. Their rotations are 4 weeks long and mine are 6 weeks long so I have gotten to know two groups of medical students. It is great to finally work with students who have more experience. I really feel like we all worked as a team to help treat patients and educate each other. Since we all live together we all have “family dinners” each night and even make a fire to make some s’mores during the cold nights up here. There is a tradition for all the groups who stay and work in the medical center, you have to complete a puzzle, autograph it as a group, and hang it up in the house. The first group of medical students and I successfully completed our puzzle and hung it up in the hallway of the house. My name will be forever a part of this medical center for future students to see. I hope that future students will love it here as much as I did.


  1. Congrats on your progress! Your experiences sound great and rewarding! I've been accepted to the 2012 program and have a few questions. Do students ever fail finals and clinical exams? The professors talked about a remediation program after the interview. Do many students get remediated? Also, a lot of students I spoke to have had rotations all over the east coast? If we want to stay more local, can that be arranged? Finally, did you live with other PA students during your didactic year? Thanks in advance!

  2. Thank you! Congrats on being accepted that's awesome! As far as your
    questions go, some people have failed finals and clinical exams. The
    fortunate things is that it is usually due to not being prepared and
    it does not happen often. For the most part this is not a problem
    because there are so many exams etc that your grade can usually handle
    that. Failing is usually lower than a 70 but they like us to keep our
    grades above an 80%. This program is tough so it does happen but again
    usually you figure out what you did wrong and change it or get help so
    it does not happen again. Remediation I don't know a lot about
    honestly, I think it depends on the context. For example we have two
    tests called the Packrat that is preparation for our certification
    exam after graduation (the PANCE). If you don't have a high enough
    score you go through remediation and basically have a few assignments
    to make sure to improve your score so that you can pass the PANCE.
    That is all I really know about that. This has not happened for us
    yet that I know. Sorry.

    As far as rotations go, I do know about that. Unless you have a family
    and children or someone with health problems that you need to stay
    local they can pretty much put you anywhere. We do have 3 rotations
    that we can ask to be placed, they try to honor at least 1 of those. I
    also made sure to put what I was interested in primary care so that
    those who were interested in ER or Surgery could get better rotations
    for those. I feel like it was pretty random where people got sent, for
    the most part people were happy. I was willing to go anywhere and I
    was given only 2 away rotations, so I as pretty lucky. I know other
    people who are in 6 different states but were happy about it. You can
    also try to switch with another person for a rotation but they have to
    approve it. I actually really liked being away, initially I was not to
    happy about it but it was GREAT to get away from the school area.
    Because your life revolves around school it is nice to get away and
    start somewhere new. I have really not heard horror stories, they
    pick pretty great rotations for us. I love the two away rotations I
    have had.

    I do live with 2 students in my class and our arrangement works out
    really well. We all have separate rooms which is important because you
    will be around each other 24/7 at school. We live in roxborough which
    is nice to be outside of the city. Also living with 2 other people
    decreases the rent for you.

    Hope I helped!