Weeks 35 & 36: Doubling Up

Well, it was bound to happen. After thirty-four weeks of consistent blog posting, I couldn’t find even one hour to spare last weekend to write about my thirty-fifth week of PA school. With the thesis project to balance on top of everything else, time was a bit sparse this past week. But, the great news is that my group successfully made our first research deadline (this past Tuesday), so all the time spent/hours of sleep lost paid off in the end. Approval of our research concept is still pending, but our next deadline is not until late November, so I’m thrilled that I can devote the bulk of my time now to studying. I’ll catch you up on the events of these past two weeks…

In the past two weeks of Pharmacology, we focused on drugs used in the treatment of thyroid disorders and conditions of the gastrointestinal system (diarrhea, constipation, nausea/vomiting…etc). This week, we learned how to calculate doses of drugs for pediatric patients, most of which must be dosed based on the child’s weight. We also began practicing how to write these prescriptions out on prescription pads. Much care must be taken at this step to avoid any ambiguities and ensure that the pharmacist and, more importantly, the patient correctly carry out our instructions. In Surgery, we focused on the surgical correction of gallbladder and liver abnormalities (gallbladder stones and cirrhosis of the liver). We had our midterm for this class last week, and it was one of the tougher exams that I’ve taken thus far in PA school, but not the worst. In our final class of Hematology/Oncology, we focused on the diagnosis of various platelet/clotting disorders (hemophilia), and our final for this specialty is in a couple of weeks. Next week, we begin our next two specialty courses: Psychiatry and Neurology. The past few weeks of my Health Promotion/Disease Prevention class have focused on educating patients about nutrition and exercise, tobacco/alcohol abuse cessation, and screening/treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Today, we completed our final class of Obstetrics, and focused on management of premature births and postpartum care of both the mother and her newborn. So, yes, my brain is a bit saturated at the moment. I don’t think I’ve crammed so much new information into my head all at one time before…

Next week, midterms begin! I start with my Pharmacology midterm on Tuesday, and I have the first (of two) standardized patient labs of the semester (for my Clinical Skills class) on Wednesday. Thus far in Clinical Skills, we have mainly learned the techniques of the neurological and psychological physical exams, so I definitely expect the patient complaints to center around these two systems. Maybe they will present with muscle weakness of the arms or legs or with loss of sensation in a specific area of their body…who knows, I can never really predict accurately. Next week’s blog will focus on these two patient appointments (should be interesting, as always).

It’s unbelievable that I’m already six weeks into this semester, and clinical rotations are just around the corner (233 days away). Without going into too much detail, our clinical phase lasts fifty-two weeks and consists of eight rotations, some of which are four weeks and others eight weeks. One of the eight rotations is an elective, which means we can select a specialty of our own interest. I have a few in mind, including pulmonary medicine and endocrinology, but I definitely have some things to think about in the upcoming weeks…

Question of the week: Can you count down from the number 100 by intervals of 7? See how far you can get, and I’ll explain the significance of this test next week. Starting counting! I’ll start you off…100…93…86…

Last week’s answer: Unsaturated fats (like oils) are a healthier form of dietary fat than saturated fats (like butter).

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