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Friday, April 22, 2011


Rotations! Rotations! Rotations!

Yes, we finally got our rotation placements on Friday! I got 2 out of my 3 choices, so I am ecstatic. The day was filled with anticipation, people posting on Facebook how many minutes left until rotations were revealed.  Each student is given the option of making a preference list of 3 sites each in different specialties. We were told that our teachers would do their best to honor at least one of the three. There are 7 rotations total: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Ob-GYN, Emergency Medicine, and Geriatrics/Behavioral Psych.  Each rotation is 6 weeks with the exception of Geriatrics/Behavioral Psych which is split 1 ½ weeks in geriatrics at PCOM and 4 ½ weeks in Behavioral Psych.  From taking a quick look around the room it seemed like my classmates were all happy with their rotation placements. I even saw some students hugging our teachers.
            My rotations are actually pretty local which is nice, I have two a bit further away but they are in areas I have never been so I am excited to see areas of the US that are unknown to me.  Overall, I am just excited to get out there, albeit nervous, but excited! Everything seems more real now, I can’t wait until August!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Positive Thoughts

Last Saturday, April 9th, our class had a clinical skills day.  This is done once per term during the last 3 terms of the didactic phase of PA school at PCOM.  During these days we get to learn techniques that will be useful on clinical rotations and for the rest or our PA careers.  The last clinical skills day we learned NG tube placement, arterial blood gas, how to draw blood, and how to administer vaccines and medication amongst other things.  This past clinical skills day had a lot of review from the first day in order to make sure we understand important concepts like taking blood and administering a shot to a patient.  However, we also learned new skills like placing catheters, placing EKG leads, and starting an EKG machine.  Some of the skills we perform on dummies or dummy arms, like placing IVs and catheters, although we do draw blood on each other.
I love clinical skills day!  It makes PA school more real, in the sense that you know one day you will be doing this on a real patient.  I also couldn’t help but notice that this clinical skills day we started to become more confident.  Some of us even decided to do IVs on each other and not the dummy arms.  I know that I felt comfortable enough to take blood from one of my teachers, something that would have caused anxiety before.  I enjoy these days because we get to learn from our teachers and other healthcare professionals from local hospitals.  Everyone is always very patient with you and they share personal experiences and tips.  I also feel that it’s a great way to meet potential co-workers.  Breakfast and lunch are always provided which is nice and it is a very low-key atmosphere for learning.

            On a separate note, our class finds out our clinical rotation sites on Friday!  We are all really excited to know where we will be going in August throughout the next year.  Look for that update this weekend.

            Something important to note for PA students or future PA students: sometimes we can get bogged down in work and stress and how many tests we have the next week.  In times like that it is nice to focus on the positives and enjoy the stress-free moments in life.  DO NOT lose yourself in this process.  We were all chosen to be in PA school for a reason; they liked us for who we ARE.  Clinical skills day and knowing where we are going on rotations are the hallmarks of this week and last.  In the weeks to come I will have others.  The point is stay true to yourself, enjoy school, lean on friends and family if you are stressed, and do the best you can. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Little About Me

Hey Everyone! I’m Jennifer and I am currently a first year physician assistant (PA) student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) in Philadelphia, PA.  Ever since deciding to become a PA I have wanted to share my experiences.  The goal of this blog is to educate others about the PA profession and to give you an inside look about of my experiences during the didactic and clinical phase of my PA curriculum.
Let me start by saying a little about myself: My name is Jennifer Pilchman and I graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2008 with BS in biology.  I decided to become a PA on Christmas Day, 2008.  I kid you not!  And, I got into PA school almost exactly a year later on December 19th, 2009.  My decision to become a PA was made for many reasons.  I wanted to be in medicine but not necessarily at the top of the medical hierarchy.  It’s a career choice that allows me to work hands-on with patients, do procedures, assist in surgeries and work in tandem with my supervising physician and medical team.  The PA profession allows flexibility in scheduling as well as specialty choice.  Not having gone through the clinical phase yet, I am not sure what specialty I want to go into, however, I have always leaned towards pediatrics and primary care.
Just so that you are all aware, both my parents are doctors and they LOVE what they do, so my love for medicine was in the blood so-to-speak.  I believe one of my first words was “stethoscope.”  The decision to become a PA was a difficult one, and yet so rewarding, and I have not looked back since.  The PA program at PCOM is 26 months; 14 months are didactic and 12 months are going out on clinical rotations.  Right now I am in the didactic phase and I go out on clinical rotations starting August 15th, 2011 (not like I am counting or anything).  So far, school is really tough.  For those that don’t know about PA school, let me put it this way: we were told on the first day of orientation that PA school was like drinking out of 2 fire hydrants, and man, they were not kidding.  I have never worked this hard in my life!  BUT, I have to say, it is amazing how much you can learn in such a short period of time.  For those that are unaware, PA school is based off the medical model, so we learn a similar curriculum in a shorter period of time.  Although PCOM is an Osteopathic Medical School, we do not learn any osteopathic manual manipulation, which is something unique to the DO program.  However, we are still taught to see the patient as a whole, which is a benefit to attending an osteopathic institution.  I chose PCOM because of its close-nit atmosphere and welcoming faculty and students.  
I can’t wait to share my experience with you all soon!  Please feel free to share your experience with me as well.