Week 10: A Myriad Of Muscles

          It’s hard to believe that I am already ten weeks into PA school…it still feels like I started only a couple of weeks ago. This week (like most other weeks) was jam-packed with new information. In lab, we dissected Summer’s anterior (front) thighs and legs. We had to cut through about two inches of fat tissue before we could uncover Summer’s thigh muscles, but once we did so, we found many (if not all) of the structures that we expected to find. Knowing merely where a muscle is located, unfortunately, is not enough; for each muscle, I must also learn it’s attachment points (to bones), it’s innervations (what nerve supplies the muscle), the muscle’s blood supply (what arteries and veins supply the muscle), and it’s action. With nearly 100 muscles to learn for the final exam (between front and back thighs, legs, arms, and face), I’ll be kept very entertained this month. Also, since each cadaver has two legs and two arms, there will be twenty-four limbs for our professors to choose from for our final…pretty intimidating, but at least I now know what to expect (based on the midterm). The highlight of the dissection was opening Summer’s knee joint. The knee is such a complex joint, so well-protected and reinforced by surrounding ligaments and muscles, and it was an amazing experience to peel away all of these supporting structures to reveal the knee’s inner-workings. Next week we will flip Summer onto her stomach so that we can begin dissecting her posterior (back) thighs and legs, in addition to her hip joints. For now, I have plenty of muscles, nerves, and vessels to catch up on!

          This week in Behavioral Medicine, we received our child abuse recognition certificates (from the class we attended last week). This week’s lecture content focused on various sexual preferences that our patients may present with…well, some of the more atypical sexual preferences. For example, my professor spoke of several items he has extracted from the rectums of emergency room patients, in addition to his treating a female patient with a rare sexual partner…her male dog. Yes, it was an interesting lecture, but as I kept the details of Summer’s pelvic exam to a minimum (last week), I will do the same here! In GI, we learned how to diagnose and treat liver diseases, including hepatitis viruses A-E (there’s even a G!) and various causes of cirrhosis (for example, alcoholic cirrhosis). In ID, we focused on diagnosing and treating sexually transmitted infections (syphilis, gonorrhea, etc…). Up to this point, the Clinical Medicine sub-specialty courses (Dermatology, HEENT, ID, and GI) stress the diagnosis of each condition more so than the treatment. We have been responsible for learning what medications we would prescribe to a patient for each specific diagnosis, but we do not learn how to determine the actual dosage of each medication until we begin our Pharmacology course (we take three semesters of Pharmacology, which begin next semester). 

          Yet again, this was another very productive week. Next week I have to register for my classes for the Spring semester. Registration is less stressful now than it was in undergrad because the program organizes our schedule and classes for us, so we can never be closed out of a class. This semester was a fourteen credit semester, and next semester will be a seventeen credit semester. We have been warned by many that this first semester will be our easiest (that’s comforting to know). Also, next Friday is my second standardized patient lab. We haven’t received much detail on what news we will be breaking to our standardized patients this time around, but I’m nearly certain I will be diagnosing him or her with a terminal illness. So, stay tuned for next week’s post…     

Question of the week: What is the largest nerve of the human body?  

Last week’s answer: A research study conducted between the years of 2007 and 2008 determined the prevalence of child abuse cases (reported and unreported) on Long Island. The presented findings state that, on Long Island, one child is abused every 11 minutes on a daily basis.

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