Monday, April 30, 2012

Test 6 done

Body and Disease has 10 tests total and today we had our 6th one, which means we are in the home stretch. Test 7 promises to be mostly pathology so I'm already looking forward to it! Having life divided up into these two week testing period chunks makes time seem to go by much faster than it normally does. I was really surprised when I looked over at one of my classmate's countdown calender to see that we only had 8 weeks left of this unit... Sometimes it seems like we just started (of course it also feels like forever since I left my job last summer...).

In two weeks we will celebrate the current second year's receiving their diplomas... they will still be with us through July to finish off their clinical year though, so the diplomas matter and they do not matter. I think the program length/eligibility requirements to sit the exam are determined by NAACLS while the masters is awarded by Duke. The masters will be nice and it will make my mom happy and all, but the eligibility is the main goal here. Being a certified PA beats having a Masters of Health Science hands down (although it will be nice to have both! I'm not scoffing at having a masters!!).

But all of that is in my future and I'm getting way ahead of myself... first, four more tests in Body and Disease... eight more weeks. One week of summer break, and then a year of clinical rotations. One step at a time.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Apologies for April...

I do have a fun (at least to my mind) blog post cooking. I want to do a day in the life with pictures, but... I've been going around the past little while occasionally snapping pictures and just not putting them together as a blog entry.

The problem being, when you have something you want to post but you can't post it (because you're a slacker! or some other reason like very important classes and tests, and soccer practice two nights a week, etc) it seems to mentally prevent you from posting anything else. Sorry about that blog world! I will try to be more faithful to you and hopefully one day next week will turn all the pictures on my phone into a blog entry with little snip-its of my life.

Meanwhile, I've been very social with classmates, going out with my husband and I also made some not related to school at all friends who know Durham pretty well and have been fun to go out with. I like quirky people...who also happen to be candy makers... who like to share their candy with new friends :D

In school news we had a lecturer the week before last who was discussing brain tumors. He mentioned that in all of his years practicing that he'd never actually had a med student with a brain tumor and yet every year after his lecture at least one person would come by his office thinking they had one. It is funny but very true that after learning all these signs and symptoms of disease that you start diagnosing yourself with the most random conditions. I've tried to be very good about not doing that since I will never forget the time my sister diagnosed herself with lymphoma when she was in med school.

Monday, April 23, 2012


The bake sale went well! There were some pretty impressive offerings (the cake pops looked very yummy!), some folks just donated money, and others came down and got treats for their whole staff. It is nice to be supported by the community! (Yes, yes, I know... no one is surprised that I'm saying Duke is awesome yet again, but I do love it!).

Classes have continued to evolve, but overall the structure relies heavily on student guided learning. But at least immunology is over and we're focusing much more on pathology (and pharmacology but that is more of a med student concern).

We have had sessions with patients coming in to discuss their experiences and those are always interesting. I like the idea that the future doctors in our class get this exposure to the human aspect of medicine. We had one patient who had a doctor elsewhere tell her that her medical condition was all in her head, and it was good for the med students to hear how something like that impacts a patient.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sooo... decisions

One our classmates did not want to split costs, so we drew lots and I lost. I will probably pass on the case I was thinking of presenting to one of my classmates if they are interested since it is a unique case that is being written up in a national journal.

Which means I am leaving it up to my husband if he thinks it is worth the cost of me going since he would be bankrolling it. How much does networking matter in a high demand field? I should talk to the current crop of second years and see if they think the experience is worth the expense. :)

Anyone have an opinion? I've never been to one of their conferences, so if you have I'd be interested to know if you found it worthwhile. I would miss out on a week of surgical rotations if I go.... which is something else to think about.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bake sale Friday!

I'm making these from this blog
Some of our second years decided to address the fact that our program is tiny enough that we don't have any Pathologists' Assistant gear in the student bookstores (and none of the gear for the Physicians Assistant program just uses the abbreviation, which I feel like would have been a decent compromise, no?). They petitioned the council that handles the graduate students for some funds to offset the cost of having t-shirts made and to allow us to raise awareness of our program. I've said more than once that pathologists' assistants do not have much PR, after all!

So we are setting up tables both at the hospital and on campus to sell baked goods and chat with people about the existence of our profession/program. Hopefully someone will actually want to buy something from the bake sale, otherwise it will be a long afternoon! And any funds raised will go towards decreasing the cost of the shirts/hoodies we are having made.

Since our second years are going to be on their rotations (except maybe for the autopsy folks if there aren't any autopsies in the afternoon) the first years will be doing most of the hanging out selling baked goods part of this. It is only fair though since the second years were the ones to get this all together, price quotes, clean up designs, etc.

And...also... now. It looks like three of us are showing interesting in the AAPA conference. It isn't even that I particularly want to go, it is that I am aware that it would probably be a very, very good opportunity and that becoming involved in our relatively small professional community would be a good idea. Plus, my husband thinks it is important and since he'd be the one paying the bill, and I do value his advice and opinions, I should probably go. If everyone that is currently indicating interest goes, then what we will probably end up doing as a group would be for two people to accept the scholarship and for everyone to pay for a third of the third person's expenses to keep everything fair and equitable. We will meet up tomorrow to finalize details and then talk to our program director about it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

AAPA Conference Changes

A few years ago the AAPA started covering the conference and hotel costs for second year students who were willing to pay their own way and present a poster. It is a good networking opportunity for the students who are on the verge of job hunting and the continuing education classes are good as well. However, even though as a profession we're not that large, the cost of all those students adds up and they've decided to change it this year. Each program will have 2 scholarships for students interested in going and their responsibilities while at the conference will be greater than previous years.

Unfortunately, the topics covered in the conferences presentations won't be announced until after the students have been selected. Without knowing if the presentations will be immediately applicable and factoring in the cost of the plane ticket to Miami and food expenses while there in addition to the work needed to put together a paper and presentation it is hard to know if it'll be a worth while experience. It is one thing when your employer is offsetting the cost and another thing when you're an unemployed student contemplating spending the equivalent of a month's rent to make the trip... And the outline for the student topics is due right around the same time as our final exams which makes everyone less inclined to sign up for an extra assignment.

So, not sure who, if anyone, from our program will want to go. Our program director presented the changes to us last week and then has given us some time to see if they would need to figure out a fair way to distribute the scholarships or if we could figure it out between us or we wouldn't end up using them at all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rambly bits

It is Easter weekend and for a moment, just a short one, I miss South Carolina. Or at least some of the people we knew there and the things we could do.

The church where the children went for daycare has a huge Easter festival every year with lots of kids, bounce houses, a massive egg hunt, the Easter bunny visiting, and an indoor activity area with the associated stories of the resurrection, etc.

But, now that the moment has passed, I'm still incredibly happy to be here in Durham. I'm working on meeting non-classmate people in the area (not that I don't love my classmates because they are insanely awesome as always) because there seems to be a high concentration of interesting folks here and I like meeting strangers.

Summer is almost here and it is almost time to be pantsless! Or rather, skirted :) At least for a few more months, once we start on clinical rotations it is time to be in scrubs!

Everyone is so happy on a clinical rotations day because we know exactly what we're wearing. Wake up, put on scrubs, go to the hospital. Scrubs are fantastic, they're like walking around all day in your pajamas, medical pajamas that are socially acceptable to wear in public. It is much less work first thing in the morning than coming up with an actual outfit.

There is an article that says they are continuing the TBL format and it can be read here:

I'm not sure what metric is being used to determine that it is a success since the medical students in this year won't be taking their boards for a while. The administrative quotes are from Singapore, not the US, and there weren't any student or faculty interviewed as far as I can tell so take the article with a grain of salt. Oh, and the format described is true for Singapore perhaps, but we do not use clickers to answer questions or have an opening quiz. Also, if I remember correctly they only have TBL days twice a week.

We have had a pharmacology heavy week but next week looks to be a lot of pathology so there is that to look forward to. :-D