It was about one foot in length, eight inches in width, and one foot in height, and after my professor dropped it onto a desk in the front of the classroom, I could swear I felt the ground beneath by feet vibrate. What appeared, at first, to be a moderately-sized shoe box, was unfortunately nothing of the like. It wasn’t until my professor opened the flap of the object and began shuffling through its pages, when I finally realized that it was a book…yes, a book. A book larger than one I have ever seen before. And as my professor flipped through the pages of this book, he explained that its content includes every drug imaginable. Not only that, but for each drug, an explanation of its action, instructions for its dosage and administration, its side effects and contraindications, and so on. It’s this book, my professor explained, that we have thirty weeks (two semesters) to learn, from cover to cover; put bluntly, but honestly by my professor, a virtually impossible feat to accomplish. Not only is it essential to learn these drugs, but also to understand the interactions that each drug has with one another. So, before writing that final prescription, there are many, many factors that must be accounted for, and that’s what this course, Pharmacology, will teach us.
Three new courses began this week: Pharmacology, Clinical Skills, and Endocrinology. As should be apparent by now, Pharmacology seems like it will be an extremely informative and interesting class, but a big challenge, no doubt. This week in Pharmacology we focused less on drugs and more on the sales representatives that will be selling the drugs to us, like what their business incentives are, and how to put all of what is disclosed to us about the nature of a drug into perspective. In Clinical Skills, we learned how to perform a comprehensive patient history, which is basically a series of nearly one hundred questions that are asked to patients when they present for an H&P (history and physical exam). The history of the patient is a very important tool, especially when attempting to formulate an accurate diagnosis. Finally, in Endocrinology, we focused on diagnosing disorders of the pituitary gland (gigantism, diabetes insipidus, pituitary tumors…etc). It amazes me how changes in the amount of a single body substance, like a hormone, can have such drastic physical outcomes (just search for images of individuals with “gigantism” on the internet and you’ll see what I mean).
So, after four days, three new classes, one snow day, and a treacherous, painstakingly long (3 hour) drive home, I’ve completed the first week of this second semester (16th week of the program). Returning on Tuesday, sitting in the same seat as I did throughout the entirety of last semester, it truly felt like I had never left. The past four weeks of my winter break blurred and I quickly drifted back into my PA school mindset. Luckily, the workload did not pile on too quickly this week (calm before the storm, no doubt). Next week, four new classes are added to the schedule, making a final count of seven courses…now that’s more like it!
Question of the week: Would you expect a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) to increase or decrease an individual’s volume of urine output?
Last week’s answers: Electrocardiogram; Ears; Eyes; Four times a day; Swallowed