Friday, September 9, 2011

Class Schedule AKA There is no typical day in the life of a PA student!

The first six weeks of PA School at Duke (and to be technical, a first year medical student at Duke) are spent in a class called "Molecules and Cells." The first five weeks have included courses with names such as: Pathways of Signal Transduction, Chromosomes and Cytogenetics, and Action Potential Generation. We have a test every two weeks and a TBL session on the weeks we don't have tests.

Days can run from 8:30 to 4:30 with an occasional delightfully short day when the med students have something in the afternoon that we aren't required to go to. Most of our days are filled solely with lecture but a few times a week we also have histology lab which is usually on a structure we've studied in class. We can have one to five different lecturers on a given day. Sometimes the day's lectures are distinct topics, but you can also get two part lessons as well. We did have that one week that covered metabolism in depth (I cannot stress how much it helped to have the doctor we had teaching it teaching it. *He was fantastic!), but that's been the only time we've had something that distinctly inter-related over that long a time period.

There are one to two clinical correlations a week. The format is pretty similar--a physician comes in and gives a presentation on a given disease, followed by a patient who is generous enough with their time to come in and discuss their condition. The clinical correlations are really interesting and hopefully give the future physicians some perspective into the patient's point of view. 

There are two half hour Q&A sessions each week which are pretty free-form, some days have more questions than others. Last year's med students voted to discontinue them but this year's still seem to be utilizing them. Attendance is not mandatory and they start before the normal class time so it doesn't hurt to have them.

We usually have an hour for lunch and 10 minute breaks between classes. Since we stay in the same amphitheater and it is right by the food court and restrooms the 10 minutes is usually more than enough. The labs, which are also where we have tests, are up on the forth story in a different part of the building (not that far as long as you don't get lost, and I don't get lost nearly as much anymore!).

Our parking garage is a ten or fifteen minute walk (depending on how fast you walk) from the amphitheater. Sometimes in the morning I will take the bus if it is there when I arrive, but since the time waiting for the bus plus the time it takes to go through its route is longer than the time it takes to walk waiting for it doesn't make sense. In the afternoons we usually tend to walk back to the parking garage in a large group chatting and socializing.

Then I get to go home, feed the family, do the dishes, make an effort to keep the laundry levels under control and study enough to keep from having to cram before tests. This weekend is the first time I'm ever having to play catch up, so I'll have to see how much time that takes.

It is busy, the days are full, and every time we have a clinical correlation I have to wear business casual clothes but I really do love it.  I'm happy. Every other weekend I am intensely stressed out about the upcoming test, but every week that passes is another week closer to grossing again.

Now that my overview is finished, and my husband has made it into town (3.5 hour drive for him) I have to go get ready so we can go out to Chapel Hill with some of the med students and some of the other PA students (two of our number are out of town, and one's wife is running a half marathon starting early tomorrow). Hope you guys have a good weekend! I'm going to go off and enjoy maintaining my life/school balance for a few hours ;-)


  1. Busy woman. Every time I think I have it hard in school, I think of the mothers who then have to go home after school do family work and care for the kids.

  2. Glad you're finding some time to get away from school and enjoy your life. I agree with NP Odyssey - I have no idea how parents can have kids and go to school. I barely manage to feed my cats, and the last time I checked dumping a can of food on the floor is not adequate parenting to a human child.

  3. I am very lucky to have my dad living with us! It means that there's someone here when the kids get home from school and that there is someone to watch the kids on the nights I do actually go out. He doesn't cook or clean really, but him being here has made me keep from letting things slide too much :)

    What I've figured out is that busy means different things to different people... Some people's busy is equal to my nice relaxing weekend, but then my busy probably makes other people roll their eyes at how easy I have it. lol