Week 19: Good Or Bad

          Four weeks into the semester and we have yet to have one full week of classes without a snow day. Fortunately, the professors have been making up the missed class time and have also discovered a way to teach us while in the comfort of our homes, even when snowed in. Now, using a program called Zoom, similar to Skype, one professor can speak to us fifty students through a computer/phone/any other handheld device imaginable. It’s amazing and saving us students a lot of extra class time to make up. Alas, snow days are no longer days off, but are now just the same as attending a lecture in a classroom. So, despite yesterday’s snow day, all seven courses were finally held this week.

          The week started with Clinical Lab Medicine, where we focused on the lab results received when we order a metabolic panel for patients. The metabolic panel is a list of electrolytes (sodium, potassium…etc.) and other measurements, like glucose, which provides an indication of the level of these substances in the patient’s body. It’s extremely important to understand how to interpret the results of such a lab test, especially when trying to determine the diagnosis and adequate treatment for the patient. In Clinical Skills, we continued to progress through the physical examination techniques, this week focusing on the dermatological (skin) exam of a patient. Everything from hair quantity and nail appearance to skin color, moisture, temperature, and texture must be assessed, in addition to the identification of any new or concerning-looking growths (like new or changing moles). So far, we’ve learned vitals and skin examination techniques, and only one section remains before our midterm (already!). In Pharmacology, we began our two week study of anti-infectious drugs (antibiotics/antivirals). We haven’t started learning how to dose these medications yet, but I sense a lot of memorization coming my way! In Endocrinology, we focused on the diagnosis and treatment of adrenal gland disorders (Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease…etc.). Only one lecture of Endocrinology remains before our final. I’m fairly apprehensive about this final, just because of the quantity of information there is to master, but hopefully I’m more confident come test time.

          Finally, today was my long-awaited Cardiology EKG exam. I don’t think I have ever been more stressed over a single exam since starting PA school, and I am extremely relieved that it’s finally over. That being said, it was a challenging exam, in part, due to the time limitation. Some EKG patterns can be recognized in a few seconds, tops, but when given a 12-lead EKG, which displays 12 different views of the heart, it can take a good amount of time to fully analyze/diagnose what’s being displayed. I think I paced myself fairly well, but I definitely could have used some extra time. I don’t know the outcome yet, but I can only hope that my interpretations/diagnoses are accurate. I’ll fill you in on the results next week…good or bad.  

Question of the week: When performing a skin self-examination, the ABCDE rule is often used as an important screening method for detecting potential melanomas. What do the letters of this acronym (ABCDE) stand for?

Last week’s answer: Some patients have blood pressures, which rise above normal range only when measured in the setting of a medical office. This is known as “white coat” hypertension. 

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