Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Next 10 Days

We have ten days until spring break! Of course we also have two tests before that happens as well. The one next Monday is going to be rough, but this is a good week for me and I'm done at noon tomorrow and Friday. Conceivably I should have enough time on those days to study a lot. And I'm planning to go in a couple hours early tomorrow and Thursday. Whatever downtime I can scrounge up I will try to fit something into, except for Thursday night. I'm giving myself Thursday night off to relax because school/life balance is necessary for sanity!

The other test will be strange since there will only be three days of classes between it and the previous test, but they can cram a lot of information into three days. At least everything will still be fresh in our minds and our actual scheduled class time is pretty minimal that week.

My spring break plans consist of hanging out with my dog who will be visiting for the week, updating the unofficial guide for new students*, writing my autopsy report, and trying to study ahead. My plans would be significantly more fun if my children's spring break matched up with mine instead of being the week after. :( It is okay though, I think the time spent catching up on sleep, movies and life in general will be more beneficial long term than going somewhere. And my husband and I have already started planning a trip for the break we'll have in the summer between first and second year (it is close enough to our ten year wedding anniversary that we're considering it our anniversary celebration) so I don't feel completely cheated on fun trips this year.

Anyway, lab was interesting today. Our instructor is great and he's trying to teach us the keywords that go along with describing different disease processes, like shortened, thickened chordae tendineae indicates rheumatic heart disease. Yesterday's Clinical Pathological Correlation was good too since it focused on the effects of HPV and goodness knows HPV generates a ton of specimens for pathological evaluation!

So that's all for now, not too exciting. Study, study, study, night off, study, study, study lol

*We should get the official mailing list soonish, which means that the incoming first years can expect the deluge of welcome/congratulations emails to start up this weekend or next week sometime. :-)  I, for one, am really curious about them all!


  1. What topics are going to be covered on the 2 tests?

    And correction in your blog above: a cobblestone appearance in the colon indicates Crohn's disease, not ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis usually encompasses the entire colonic mucosa and proceeds in retrograde fashion from the rectosigmoid area.

    1. Broadly? Immunology, Pathology, and Pharmacology. Specifically? Things like immunopathology, lectures that correlate to chapters 5, 6 and 11 of Robbins, Antiviral therapies, four or five lectures on T cells and receptors activation, function, development and manipulation, same on B cells, Hypersensitivity Types, and Pharmacokinetics. Monday's test has 30ish lecture hours. And I haven't looked at the material for next Friday's test yet.

      Meh, that's what I get for multi-tasking while blogging. At least it was in my notes correctly ;-)

  2. Whoa, wait a minute. You're going to be tested on Pharmacology & Pharmacokinetics??? I honestly don't see how that relates to the duties of a Pathologist's Assistant at all. When you get to the rotations and then finally (hopefully) take a hospital position as a P.A., you'll find that those courses are absolutely useless. You may see a drug being stated on a patient requisition as part of the clinical history, but that's as far as pharmacology will ever go in the P.A. profession.

    As another example, I have an issue with 2 courses in my curriculum: Medical Microbiology I and II. I feel like they shouldn't be part of a P.A. curriculum at all. We're not microbiologists, and all we have to know as far as microbio is concerned is what stain to use for H.Pylori and fungal stains (PAS, etc.). For any microbio that the P.A. profession utilizes, the information on that could easily be incorporated into a Histology or Histotechnology course. You don't need a 2-part Medical Microbiology course sequence at all. If I didn't have plans to go onto medical school, I would probably wind up with a D in both of those courses due to irrelevance. However, since I do have med school on the backburner, my interest in medical microbio is very high (as is my desire to do very well in it as well).

    But yeah, I wonder why they need to test you on these extraneous subjects. Hmm...charging students more tuition is definitely one reason. Can't think of anything else lol. I would take a guess that they're trying to prepare PA's to go onto medical school, but that wouldn't make sense because PA programs are typically for people who DON'T want to go onto med school (so I've heard from the horse's mouth).

    Don't get me wrong, you're getting quite an excellent, well-rounded education for a Pathologist's Assistant program, but some of the courses are rather unnecessary if you don't plan on going to medical school after. That's just my beliefs, though. Everyone has different goals and different notions on what's a priority or not. I'm just looking at this whole P.A. curriculum smartly.

    1. You asked what was going to be covered on the two tests, not what we were going to be tested on. Our course directors review the tests as written by the instructors and remove the med student only questions from our versions (ex: interpreting EKG results and on the upcoming tests pharmacokinetics). As far as the micro goes, I am pretty sure that is an accreditation requirement. I know NAACLS is definitely the reason it is a prerequisite.

      Our tuition is not by the credit hour so I don't think the classes impact it one way or another. It may vary by school though.

  3. Ahhh, sorry for assuming that what's covered on the test is actually what's going to be ON the test (or what you're going to be tested on). I logically thought that's what it usually meant. You should do a little blog on the differences between the med students vs. P.A. students tests.

    Does NAACLS really require Medical Microbiology to be a part of all Pathologist's Assistant program curricula? I'm trying to find information about that...haven't found anything yet. Maybe you know where that's stated?

    1. I assumed you were asking what topics would be covered because you were curious what we were learning about. Pharmacology is part of this unit and we are exposed to it without being explicitly tested on it. Of course, given the nature of testing in general students aren't explicitly tested on everything that is presented in a given lecture/class. :)

      A blog on the differences between med students vs PA students would basically boil down to the sentence above, there really isn't a huge difference in the tests we take vs them unless there is a specific section (like pharmacology) that isn't a necessary part of the curriculum. I know the previous test was the exact same test they had.

      As far as micro goes the document is here: http://www.naacls.org/docs/Section3_PathA.pdf but if you don't want to have to read it, the relevant text is:

      The program curriculum must include the following scientific content:
      Professional Sequence Courses:
      Anatomic Pathology Management
      Gross Autopsy Pathology Techniques
      Gross Forensic Pathology/Toxicology Specimen Techniques
      Gross Pediatric Pathology Techniques
      Gross Surgical Pathology Techniques
      Educational Methodologies

      Required Cognates:
      Clinical Pathology
      Computerization and Information Systems
      General and Systemic Human Pathology
      Histology/Microscopic Anatomy
      Human Anatomy
      Human Physiology
      Medical Ethics
      Medical Microbiology
      Medical Photography
      Medical Terminology
      Safety Regulations

  4. That's good how they're taking Pharmacology out of your test, then. Makes a lot of sense. Although I will say that I have taken courses where the students were explicitly tested on that was presented in a lecture/class. Usually, those tend to be the better types of classes where the instructors don't bore you with unnecessary material. Delivering only the most useful, bare-bones facts is always a plus. The "keep it simple and direct" methodology is wonderful.

    That is an EXCELLENT document, by the way! It's the "gold standard" for all NAACLS-accredited P.A. programs! Great job on finding that! That explains the inclusion of medical microbio, for sure. However, under "required cognates," I see that Computerization and Information Systems, along with Safety Regulations, listed. Does this mean that the P.A. program actually has to have specific courses on that material? Safety regulations MIGHT be incorporated into a Lab Management course (or listening to OSHA or something during the clinical rotations), but how about Computerization/Info Systems? That seems like it needs a whole course in itself (which no P.A. program offers). So technically, are all the current P.A. program curricula faulty??? Also, what could Educational Methodologies entail? I don't see a course in that anywhere either.

    Hmm....I don't think the curricula at any of the current P.A. schools are set in stone. In fact, going by this document, I think they all need to be revised.