The End: Didactic Phase, Semester Four

About one and a half years ago, I wrote my first blog post titled “The Beginning.” And now, eighteen months later, it’s already the beginning of the end of my didactic phase of PA school. A mere fifteen weeks of classes remain, in which time we will learn all material that is left to cover, before meeting our first, real patients in June. So, as usual, I am anxious to begin this final semester of classes. But, unlike at the time of my first post, this anxiousness is not comprised of both excitement and nerves, but rather just excitement. I cannot believe how far along I already am in the schooling, and, come June, I’m sure I will be ready for the next chapter of the program to begin. Let me fill you in on what’s to come in these final fifteen weeks of classes…

I will be taking a total of fifteen credits this semester, and, from what I have heard from both upperclassmen and professors about this semester, it’s notable as one of the easiest to handle. The courses left to complete include Emergency Medicine, Family Practice (outpatient care), and Pediatrics (medical management of children). Other courses include Clinical Decision Making, a discussion-based class, which will integrate all that has been learned over the past three semesters, Clinical Pathophysiology (study of the basis of diseases, down to their molecular/cellular mechanisms), and our second (of four) research class, in which we will continue to progress in the conduction of our Master’s degree research study. Finally, we will complete the last of our three Clinical Skills classes. As described in past posts, the Clinical Skills classes in the second and third semesters focused on the hands-on physical examination techniques that we will use to diagnose patients. This final Clinical Skills course will focus on procedural techniques that we will use in practice, such as suturing wounds, casting fractures, IV insertion/drawing blood, performing imaging procedures, like ultrasound…etc. It should be fun/a bit painful using each other as patients this semester, but the more practice, the better! I’ll have good stories to tell each week about this class no doubt…

And that’s all of the courses. This semester is one massive review of all the information covered in the past three semesters. Each class will incorporate and build on the knowledge we have thus far acquired, and so I am looking forward to the review. Also, at last, we have Friday’s completely off! In fact, my weekends begin Thursdays after 1:00 pm. I’m sure the course material won’t be any easier than in the past, but I will undoubtedly have more time to dedicate to each class, especially relative to last semester. Though, I’m sure I will be taking advantage of all of that extra time!

I begin this semester next Tuesday. In the mean time, here’s a question to keep you busy:

Question of the week: Which abnormal heart rhythm exhibits a faster heart rate, atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation?

Clinical Phase Countdown: 138 days

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