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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Starting My Last and Final Didactic Term

At the beginning of each term our class meets with one of our teachers to go over our thoughts on the previous term.  Our class discusses as a group our likes, dislikes, what we would like changed, and what we would like to stay the same in our program.  I have always liked this because I really do feel that our thoughts are heard and our changes considered.  It is a very non-judgmental process.  It is also interesting to see if your own thoughts are on par with others in the class.  It is nice because our teacher always ends with telling us that we are just where we need to be in this program.  He instills confidence that we ARE ready to move on to the next stage in the program: clinical rotations.  It is always nice to be praised after each term.  Sometimes you get so wrapped up in “GO” mode that it is nice for once to relax and take it all in.  Confidence is something that comes in this program but gradually.  I am sure when we get to clinicals we will think that we don’t know anything, when in reality we know more than we think.
This term’s meeting felt different than all the others.  Our teacher started out by talking to us about the advice he received before going on clinical rotations.  I found the advice helpful and thought I would share it to all of you.  He told us to enter every rotation by introducing yourself to your preceptor, nurses, PAs, and anyone you will be working with even if its not a medical professional.  He said that not only will you seem friendly but also this is something these individuals will remember about you.  This will make you stand out.  It shows that you care who you are working with.  I thought this was really good advice and one that I will take with me when I go on rotations.  I know it is simple but if you think about it, how many people actually do this?  My guess is not as many as there should be.
I will leave you all with a quote that our teacher also left us with.  I loved it so much that I had to actually get from him later.  It is from Ambroise Paré who was a French royal surgeon and a pathologist in the 1500s.  He said, “Guérir quelquefois, soulager souvent, consoler tougours,” which means, “Cure occasionally, relieve often, comfort always.” 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Awaiting Next Term

             Last week our class met with the class above us to discuss upcoming rotations.  Each student in our class was paired with an upper-classman with the same rotation.  The upper class was helpful in explaining what to expect, how to study, what books we will get, and what to expect from certain preceptors and the areas we will be working in.  It is always nice to bond with the upper class.  I am not sure if this happens in all programs but in my experience, the seniors have been beyond helpful.  I have never felt like I am bothering them with questions.  They seem to welcome questions and enjoy giving advice. 
            With rotations on the brain and as this term comes to a close (next Thursday), it is hard to not think about next term.  Next term is our LAST term of the didactic phase.  After that, rotations!  It is scary to think how time flew and all we have accomplished thus far in this program.  As a matter of fact, PCOM is beginning to prepare for the incoming PA class orientation in June.   Already I have been receiving e-mails from incoming students asking what to expect, what books to buy, etc.  I love getting these because I know that when I was in their position I was feeling an overall sense of panic as well.  It’s only natural.  I am sure this is the same feeling the seniors have toward my class, they only want to help and “pay it forward” as you will. 
            As much as I am looking forward to the last term, there is a lot to still do for this current one. We have finals next week and all of us are pretty worn out.  Just to give you a preview: this morning I poured coffee into my cereal bowl and cereal into my coffee mug.  I would be lying if I said this was the first time something like this has happened.  I have even put peanut butter in the freezer.  Being tired seems like the norm now-a-days, BUT I know it is all for a purpose and, at least I know I am not alone.  I have my friends, family, classmates, teachers and upper classmen to push me along.

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.