The Middle: Didactic Phase, Semester Two

          I’m back! It’s been a great (and cold) winter break, but my time off is quickly coming to an end…too quickly. Over the past four weeks, I’ve completed all of the work assigned back in December and began preparing for the first few weeks of this upcoming semester. I enjoyed reading Freakonomics (one of the reading assignments), and I am starting to get the hang of interpreting EKGs (the other of the two reading assignments). In fact…dare I say it…I enjoy reading EKGs and find it fairly relaxing (I say that now…). Interpreting an EKG is like completing a puzzle; if you can interpret all of the bits of information an EKG supplies (heart rate, heart rhythm, heart position…etc.) and then piece all of that information together, you can formulate an accurate diagnosis—it’s really cool. I was also assigned the job of completing two online certification courses: a Basic HIPAA Privacy & Security certification and an Infection Control certification. I also received many of my syllabi for this upcoming semester, so I have been trying to read assigned material for each course, enough to at least keep me somewhat caught up through the first two or three weeks. Let me fill you in on what’s going on this semester…

          I’ll be taking a total of fifteen credits. The four medical specialties we will cover this semester are Cardiology, Endocrinology (study of disorders of glands, like the thyroid, pancreas, pituitary, and adrenal glands), Pulmonology (study of lung disorders), and Nephrology/Urology (study of kidney disorders/urinary tract disorders). Like last semester, each specialty will take seven weeks to study, and we begin the first half of the semester with Cardiology and Endocrinology. Other courses include Clinical Lab Medicine (how to interpret the results of lab tests (like blood tests, urinalyses…etc.) that are ordered for patients), Informatics in Medicine, and Epidemiology (the study of the spread of disease). I will also begin my first of two Pharmacology (the study of drugs) courses. I have heard Pharmacology is one of the most difficult courses I will take throughout the schooling, but appropriate prescribing and dosing of medications is arguably one of the most important tasks of this field, so I would rather it be a more challenging course. Lastly, I will begin my first of three Clinical Skills courses. Finally, I get to start using some equipment! Clinical Skills is all about the hands-on work that this field entails. This first semester of Clinical Skills focuses on how to document a complete patient history and how to examine half of the body systems typically analyzed during a physical examination of a patient. And yes…we are graded on our hands-on skills using standardized patients, you know, the same ones I encountered last semester. Needless to say, this course requires a lot of materials: a stethoscope, otoscope, opthalmoscope, blood pressure cuff, tuning forks, Snellen eye chart, reflex hammer, and penlight, to name a few. I acquired limited exposure to the usage of this equipment throughout by undergrad studies, but I can’t wait to hone these skills this semester!

          So, there it is—semester two in a nutshell. It’s definitely going to be busier than last semester (if that’s possible). I do feel, however, that I am beginning this semester with a better indication of what to expect when I begin next Tuesday (January 21st). I have, what I think, is a good head start on the first couple of weeks, and I’ve also accepted the fact that it’s truly impossible to learn every detail prior to each midterm or final. Like last semester, I plan to use the pop-quizzes/exams to my advantage and always expect to be tested on a weekly basis to keep up with the material as best as possible. I do plan to blog every Friday, as I did last semester, time permitting. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I’m ready to begin this semester…just give me a few weeks before I probably regret saying this. Okay…let’s do this…

Questions of the Week:

  1. What does ECG/EKG (interchangeable) stand for?
  2. A P.A. may use an otoscope to examine your _______.
  3. A P.A. may use an opthalmoscope to examine your _________.
  4. A P.A. prescribes a medication to be taken “qid.” How many times per day will you be taking this medication? Hint: The “q” gives you the answer (think Latin…or, in this case, Italian, which is what I prefer!).  
  5. A P.A. prescribes a medication to be taken “po.” So, will this medication be injected, swallowed, or applied to the surface of your skin? Hint: The “o” gives you the answer (think in a similar manner as you did for question #4). 

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