Week 25: Rock Bottom

          After twenty-five weeks of PA school, I can confidently say that this past week was one of the toughest, if not the toughest, to get through. The stress that I felt leading up to my Cardiology final exam on Wednesday pushed me a bit over the edge, both mentally and emotionally. I’m not certain where all of the nerves surfaced from, but for some reason, I just couldn’t help but feel a bit discouraged going into the exam, knowing all of the information I had to master in such a short amount of time. And so, after five days completely dedicated to studying for one course, Cardiology (I’ve never focused on one course for so many days straight before), I woke up at 5:00 am Wednesday morning (the day of my Cardiology final), incredibly nervous about the exam that would come eight hours later…

          At 2:00 pm, I flipped over my Cardiology final exam packet, pencil and pen all of the while shaking in my right hand, and answered each question to the best of my knowledge and intuition. At 3:00 pm, I submitted my exam, and walked out of class having completed the toughest exam I have taken thus far in PA school. No amount of additional studying could have prepared me for that exam. Needless to say, I drove home from school devastated, extremely scared that all that I’ve been working towards would be lost after this one exam. Arriving home from school, I forced myself to begin studying for my next final, all the while very distracted. At 6:00 pm I poured myself a glass of wine with dinner, well deserved and needed following the preceding, tumultuous five days. And then, at 9:00 pm, my Cardiology final exam grade arrived via email, and my grade was an absolute miracle. With a hefty curve to increase the class average, my grade well surpassed my initial expectations, and I was stunned by the result. In fact, my final grade in Cardiology was better than any other specialty course final I had taken in the past. Don’t ask me how…I’m still confused…but thrilled and relieved.

          Aside from the craziness leading up to the Cardiology final, all of my other courses proceeded as usual this week. In Clinical Lab Medicine, we continued to focus on analysis of blood test results, specifically analyzing patterns that reveal various forms of leukemia and disorders of hemoglobin. In Clinical Skills, we learned how to perform the pulmonary physical exam on a patient. When lungs are nice and clear, all you can really hear is air, but it’s always important to get accustomed to hearing normal lung sounds before learning how to recognize and classify the abnormal sounds. In Pharmacology, we focused on drugs used in the treatment of pulmonary disorders, with a strong focus on asthma control. In our final class of Pulmonology, we focused on diagnosing and treating lung cancers in addition to sleep apnea and other lung disorders that affect oxygen levels in blood. Next week is our Pulmonology final, and then we begin our final specialty course of the semester, Nephrology/Urology (study of kidney and urinary disorders).

          This week was an eye opener for me. Yes, I did hit rock bottom, feeling discouraged at some times and ridiculously nervous at others, but I never realized how much this all means to me until walking out of that Cardiology final on Wednesday. I thought this was all over for me, and it was one of the scariest notions I had ever felt. But, I made it through this week, and so I’m confident that I can push through these last five weeks of the semester to come.

Question of the week: Nephrons are the microscopic components, which comprise this organ.

Last week’s answer: False. Warfarin prevents blood clotting.  

2 thoughts on “Week 25: Rock Bottom

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