The Middle (Continued): Didactic Phase, Semester Three

          Not so long ago (at least that’s how it feels), I posted my final blog to conclude my first year of PA school. And now, I find myself (unsurprisingly) thinking…where did my summer go? As expected, my time off flew by, and two weeks from now I’ll be starting my third semester of school. This summer was one of the best I have ever had, free of any obligations, and only requiring a light amount of studying in preparation for the first couple of weeks of this upcoming semester. Yes, it’s been such a relaxing, stress-free summer, but it’s time to start talking about what’s coming my way for the remainder of this year…

          Semester three – from what I’ve heard some upperclassmen say, it’s the most intense of the four semesters. This semester, I’ll be taking eleven new courses, luckily only having to balance eight courses at one time (since the specialty courses only last about five or six weeks each). The final five medical specialties we will cover this semester include Geriatrics (branch of medicine focusing on the care of elderly patients), Hematology/Oncology (study of blood disorders, in addition to malignant (cancerous) disorders), Rheumatology (study of disorders affecting muscles, joints, and their associated attachments like ligaments and tendons), Psychiatry (study of mental, emotional, and behavioral illnesses), and Neurology (study of nerve disorders, including disorders of the brain). I will also be taking the second (of three) Clinical Skills courses. Last semester, this course focused on the techniques used for physical examination of half of the human body systems. We will learn how to physically examine the other half of the human body systems this semester (and, of course, more standardized patient labs are coming my way). Other courses include Pharmacology II (a continuation of the Pharmacology course I completed last semester), Surgery, Women’s Health (Gynecology/Obstetrics), Health Promotion/Disease Prevention (this course focuses on recommendations we must make to patients regarding screening tests, vaccinations, dieting/exercise…etc), and our first Research course. To graduate from this PA program with a Master’s degree, we must all complete a group research project with three or four other students. We have these final two years to conduct our research study, and so we begin our first research-conducting steps this semester.

          So, as usual, it looks like I’ll have another jam-packed semester. Honestly, this list of courses makes my first two semesters look easy, and they were anything but that! Nonetheless, I’m getting excited to begin my last year of intense schooling (and studying), hopefully forever. It’s absolutely crazy to think that only thirty more weeks of classes stand between me and my final year of rotations. We’ve been warned that there’s at least double the amount of information to learn throughout this second year of PA school, so there’s little time to waste. With all that being said, once again…I’m ready…let’s do this.

My third semester begins Wednesday, September 3rd. Until then, have some fun with this pre-semester quiz:

1. True or false: Pre-hypertension is classified as having a blood pressure within the range of 120-139/80-89.
2. “Tympanic membrane” is the fancy term for this structure within the human ear.
3. An individual who exhibits “cyanosis” might have fingernails of this color, in place of pink.
4. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are two components of IBD. What does the acronym IBD stand for?
5. You are about to treat one of your patients for a middle ear infection. He admits to having a penicillin allergy. True or false: It’s safe to prescribe this patient amoxicillin for his middle ear infection.