Tag Archives: PA school

Wounds and Generators: My Health Care Experience

14 Oct
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Talking to a cholera patient in Limbe, Haiti

Becoming a Physician Assistant is not a light decision. It makes sense that programs would expect you to have experience in healthcare prior applying for school. Seeing as this is a decision that may guide you to happiness or your own destruction, you should check it out first! No pressure.

I never knew about the PA profession until my sister married one. For six months after college I did some serious soul searching. Med school? PA school? Did I mention that those six months were spent in Haiti? The time I spent there was indescribable. The improvisation and just barely getting by every second never ceased to amaze me. The Haitian doctor I worked with allowed me to suture, administer vaccinations, start IVs, preform pelvic exams and help with the start up of a clinic in rural Haiti. This is the hands on experience that PA programs are looking for.

We had a patient that came to the clinic for a severe asthma attack. She was wheezing, tachypneic, using accessory muscles, and lots of other stuff that made her look really sick. The electricity went out (again) so we hooked the nebulizer up to a generator. She was sitting there with a neb as the exhaust from the generator spewed into her face. Seemed counterproductive but we had no better options.

There was another patient who had an accident 12 years before and had a penetrating wound to the lower back. Because he was a diabetic he had very poor circulation and wound healing. I pulled out a snakelike bandage from his wound and changed it daily. 12 years and it still was not healed.

These are the kind of experiences that made me stand out during my interview (yes, one). But if I was not genuine they could have smelled it before I came through the door. You have to love patients. You have to love medicine. You need the experience that proves this, more than just being an occasional volunteer at your local hospital. What kind of experiences helped you to decide to get into the PA profession?

How to Survive Your Didactic Year

29 Aug

I initially thought that grad school was going to be chill.  Show up when you can, study independently, own your own schedule.  Not the case.  During the orientation week we had a class on cadaver sensitivity.  My mom was a flight attendant and had a layover in Philly so I decided to catch breakfast with her.  I entered the classroom late during a five minute break.  I was promptly asked to leave.  Embarrassed, ashamed, outcasted!  I had to meet the director of the program for a “special” meeting and had to watch a video and write a paper on my own time.  What?! I’m an adult, I can choose what lectures I feel are important.  This is not the case for PA programs.  Your body is now theirs, your time, theirs.  Get used to it and embrace it.  There is good reasoning behind this.  The first year is so highly concentrated in new information that if you want to actually pass your Pance you have to show up.  More importantly, the responsibility of people’s health and well being rests on your shoulders.  Don’t skip that myositis lecture….it may come in handy.  The following are a few other points that I found out the hard way.

1) Be present, duh

2) Get enough sleep, seriously.  Coffee only gets you so far.

3) Try to know the material that is going to be lectured on prior to class time.  The subject will make so much more sense if you take 10 minutes beforehand to read through the main outline.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the lecture.  There was a lot of eye rolling going on from fellow students over those that asked frequent questions, but guess what?  We all were better for getting that extra information.

5) Study groups and index cards rule.

6) Get a tudor if you need one.  Ain’t no shame in spending some extra dough to make sure you are successful.  In the long run it will be worth it.

7) Keep a hold of your soul, somehow.  Pray, meditate, go to yoga once in a while, don’t forget your faith in God, if you have that.  A well rounded PA is a good one.

8)  Exercise.

9)  Let loose sometimes!  Get to know those people that are walking the same difficult path and have fun with them.

10) Keep in mind that the end is never that far and you should be proud of yourself for getting into a program and choosing a profession that will bring awesomeness for your entire career.

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