Sunday, January 8, 2012

Intersession Week 1

Tabs from our binder--awesome topics to cover this month!
It all started on Monday with getting to see all of my classmates again and play catch up on everyone's holiday break. We had an orientation to the schedule for the month and received the not unsubstantial binder containing lecture materials.

We had classes on neuroanatomy, medical ethics, lab safety, medical terminology (which is more fun than it sounds), autopsy and surgical pathology at Duke, as well as neuroanatomy lab. And, as I mentioned a bit in my last post we've been split into two groups for autopsy and surgical pathology rotations. It is fine, because our class is pretty close as a whole there have been no complaints about who is in which group. And being split up makes it fun to come back together and hear about what the other group got to do that day.

I really cannot being to say how excited/happy/jubilant I am about the rotations? Sadly there wasn't an autopsy Thursday afternoon (the one time my group has been on that particular rotation) but I'm holding out hope for tomorrow afternoon (and if we don't have one then it is extra time to read the neuroanatomy text, which is useful too). I am really interested to see an autopsy here because they do a modified Letulle (en mass organ removal) for their evisceration, while my experiences up until this point have been with Virchow (organ by organ removal).

Trimming knives
The surgical pathology rotations are pretty great so far. It is fun to be grossing (even just a little bit!) again! I tried to be good on Friday and use the scalpel instead of the trimming knife so I can be more proficient with using it. 95% of the time I've used the type of scalpel I posted in the last blog entry. Occasionally I used a regular scalpel with a #22 blade, so I have to get used to handling a regular scalpel with a much longer cutting surface than that. Trimming knives are fantastic and sharp but it would be ridiculous to try to cut up a little skin shave with one or bisect a little GI biopsy. I am sure that by the end of the month I will be much more comfortable using the tools available to me here, it is (like most things!) a matter of practice.

Also, if I can add another thing about how Duke is different from my previous experience? There is just so much more going on in the surg path department! Frozen sections are happening all the time; there are PAs, PA students, and pathology residents doing fixed tissues; and there are techs moving around through all of this as well. It is definitely a bustling environment! At my last job there were three of us in a brand new facility (built around the middle of my time there) with yards of open space between the grossing tables. It is fascinating to be somewhere where the pacing is so different and every where you look someone is doing something interesting.


  1. It's funny how everyone has their own area of interest. An autopsy is pretty low on my "want to do" list, but clearly you feel differently about them!

  2. I really love reading about your P.A. experiences, Tammy. It's very nostalgic for me, and what you're describing brings back pleasant memories from my first week of rotations. All the excitement and jubilance you describe is exactly how I felt. And jeez, to think that will be 7 years ago this June!! Crazy...

    Let us know when you experience that Letulle autopsy! I love the mass en bloc removal of the organs. I saw that one a few times, and the ease with which everything comes out in one shot is really a sight to behold. I'd say that particular autopsy technique is right up there with removing the calvarium. So thrilling!

  3. Solitary Diner, I know it isn't for everyone, but I do love my chosen field :) Someone has to do it.

    D, It is just so good to be back to cutting! I am sure I will post about the autopsy.