Day 1: Orientation

          First, let’s see how well you did on your medical terminology exam (the questions are at the end of my last post) before I fill you in on how mine went. In order, the answers are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Ears, Nose, Throat (ENT), beats per minute (bpm), intravenous (IV), Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), Bowel Movement (BM), and Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (PRICE). Well? How did you do?

          Anyway, my orientation was this past Tuesday (August 27th). The medical terminology exam went very well and the average of the entire class (54 students), in my opinion, was high. It was a 100 question multiple-choice exam, some questions more specific than others, but most of which I remembered practicing while studying sample questions throughout the terminology textbook. The professors said that personal grades will be sent before the start of classes.

          After the exam, the next seven hours were slightly overwhelming, but extremely informative. The credentials of each faculty member are amazing and inspiring, and it is clear that they are all willing and able to help us students whenever and wherever help is needed. It was also great to finally meet my other classmates and to be able to put faces to the names/phone numbers I have been texting to for the past eight months. So, overall, I left orientation incredibly impressed with the knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm of both the faculty members and my classmates.

          I begin classes next Wednesday (September 4th). The professors made it clear that we do not ease into the course material and work load as we once did in our undergraduate studies. Instead, the information starts piling on from Day 1. The only added materials needed for this first semester are a few pairs of scrubs, as we have been told that working with our first ‘patients’ can get messy. My first class of PA school, next Wednesday, will be Clinical Medicine I. I have some reading to do this weekend for this course pertaining to the basics of physical exams, and I also have to brush up on my skull anatomy before Wednesday’s lecture. This specific Clinical Medicine course is divided into four sections: HEENT (head, eyes, ears, nose, throat), dermatology (skin), GI (gastroenterology) and ID (infectious disease), each of which lasts about seven weeks and culminates in a comprehensive final. We begin the semester with HEENT and dermatology and finish off with GI and ID. And that’s just one class…

Question of the week: What is the heaviest organ of the human body, by weight? 

The Beginning: Didactic Phase, Semester One

         With the first semester of PA school quickly approaching, I am steadily feeling more and more anxious (85% super excited/15% a bit nervous) to begin. Orientation is August 27th (less than two weeks away!!), and my classes begin one week later, on September 4th. Our orientation begins with a medical terminology exam, which I’ve been prepping for since January. Yes, I have likely over-studied, but I feel safer going in over-prepared than under-prepared. The medical terminology I’ve been studying includes everything from common prefixes, roots, suffixes and medical abbreviations/acronyms to terms associated with anatomy, physiology, diagnostic techniques/procedures and methods of treatment. Aside from my preliminary applications and interview back in November (2012), I feel that this terminology exam is a chance to make a good first impression, so I want to do as well as possible!

          I’ll be taking a total of fourteen credits this first semester. Only supplies I needed to buy were a white coat and a bunch of suit shirts (luckily my Dad’s shoes and ties all fit perfectly!). The course list for the semester includes Advanced Anatomy (lecture and lab), Behavioral Medicine (lecture and lab), our first (of three) Clinical Medicine class, and a class that overlooks the PA profession (focuses on current issues, medical ethics, future career options, etc.). This first semester, especially the Clinical Medicine class, focuses on dermatology (skin), HEENT (head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat), infectious diseases, and pulmonary medicine (lungs). The class schedule seems to be less packed than I originally expected, but I’ve heard the schedule is subject to change if we are falling behind on time in any of the classes. Let’s be honest though, any ‘free’ time I may have will likely be devoted to studying anyway!

          My goal is to post on a weekly basis, likely every Friday night, just to highlight a few memorable events from each week. I think it will be a nice weekly break for me, and it will definitely be fun to look back on all of my posts three years from now. Hopefully I can keep up with blogging as the semester progresses and the work load piles on. I may have to resort to one or two-sentence posts as midterm/final week nears, but we’ll see!

          While I’m preparing for my terminology exam, you can try to decode some of these common medical abbreviations/acronyms (answers to follow in next post, likely after my orientation):

1. HIPAA: _______ __________ Portability and ___________________ Act

2. ENT: _______, Nose, __________

3. IV: _________________

4. NSAID(s): Non-Steroidal ____-________________ Drugs

5. PRICE: Protection, ______, _____, Compression, _______________