Monday, April 29, 2013

Oh... that's bad, right?

Blue screen of death on my laptop... Plus my external hard drive isn't working, and my dropbox was full so... yeah, no back ups from anything past the beginning of March. I was going to back everything up on google drive last night, except... my laptop died yesterday afternoon. Unfortunate timing there.

This is what I get for being so pleased with myself for having gotten all of my autopsy reports done in a timely fashion this go-round. The universe smacks down smugness quick enough. At least it happened this past weekend so I have a week to recreate everything, instead of next weekend where it would have been impossible to get everything replaced. It will make this week unpleasant, but there's not much I can do about that.

Meanwhile, my laptop is dead. The IT guy thought it was a RAM issue, but when he tried to put my hard drive into another computer it wouldn't work. Off it went for repair. My external hard drive may also still be under warranty, which would be nice considering it has been living on my desk for the past 18+ months and not manhandled at all and shouldn't have a reason for failing (I'm a little frustrated by that...). 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oh goodness...that happened quickly!

Apparel for graduation is going to be available for pick up starting tomorrow, and I picked out a dress for the event. My family has arranged travel plans and childcare is in place. Yikes!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lab week at Durham Regional

I showed up at Durham Regional on Monday to find out it was lab week and there was breakfast in the conference room. It was a good week to be there, very social! It is a cozier set up than Duke North so the lab services are along the same hall and lab week involves them all. There were lunches, snacks, and treats all week long. It is easy to get spoiled with a week like that!

It is much more of a community hospital set up than Duke North so the specimen load is closer to the VA (except without its overwhelming male patient bias). The staff PAs cover both that hospital and Duke Raleigh and are currently short handed so they are switching off weeks instead of both covering Durham Regional in the morning and one of them joining a part time PA at Raleigh. It is good being there as a student because you get to feel useful since there is enough work to go around.

It was funny being there... at North we get so many complex specimens and we get to be pretty good at complex specimens, but we don't do a lot of the full range of benign things out there that PAs deal with on a regular basis. We get things at the VA but, once again, not that many female specimens. It was useful to experience the pacing and specimen types there.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Slowing down (maybe?)

Last week at the VA was intense... a lot of that was a matter of timing. The techs were short staffed so things weren't getting accessioned until after slide sign out (which ends at 3) which meant the morning was spent grossing larges triaged from the day before and triaging things for the end of the afternoon/next day and the afternoon was spent scrambling to get things grossed. Add in frozens scattered throughout the day and never having more than 20 minutes to get lunch, it made for a very full week.

Yesterday was spent wrapping up specimens triaged on Friday and doing smalls. I had one really interesting case today that I'm looking forward to see the slides on and a few other bigger specimens, plus an assortment of smalls. It was much better having the smalls throughout the day instead of just all at once right at the end of the day. Soooo much better.

Last week and this week, I've had a first year student come through on Tuesday afternoon for slide sign out and some time in the gross room. I've been trying to let them do things that might be slightly more appealing than straight forward small biopsies. Hopefully they've appreciated it. It would have been good to have a BKA or something to let them work on but I had to take the specimens that were available. Still, they got their hands on a couple larger specimens (even if it was just to triage) and got a chance to practice dictating without a template. Both were super great about pitching in and getting work done, which makes a difference when things are busy!

The downside to the busy week is that I didn't do any of the half dozen autopsy reports from the cases I had the week before this rotation started. I know that I need to do them, and sooner rather than later, but at this point I'm considering it an accomplishment that the kids were fed and laundry got washed last week.

The upside to the busy week is that I had some delightful options for feedback forms, and at the VA you get them back! One of my classmates sent me a text asking how I was doing on feedback forms, so I figured it out. I sent out two to three a day the entire time I was at North, and out of literally dozens of forms I got back about five back. A lot of it is just that the physical forms get misplaced, or received with every intention of being filled out and forgotten. At the VA they basically fill out the forms as they are received, so much more effective!

In other news, I've decided not to close myself off from job opportunities in the Southeast. They'd be weekend commutable to SC (and think of all the frequent flyer miles) and realistically, there isn't a job in Columbia and isn't likely to be one any time soon (years would be the timeline here). So... we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, it is surprising to be contacted about an interview for a position that I applied to four
months ago and had pretty much forgotten about. But, considering the location in the west it would be a waste of everyone's time to do anything other than politely decline.

Oh well, life will work out like it is supposed to. It always does! I'm excited about buying the house, closing is in a month and I feel really good about it for the family. It feels like the kind of house the kids can grow up in, and I hope it makes up for the instability of the last two years. They will be moving down after they're out of school at the beginning of June to give them enough time to make friends in the neighborhood and get used to the new environment. It will give me time to get the apartment all packed up as well. I like moving with a long lead time and not feeling rushed.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Productive week on autopsy

Last week was bustling, and I was on weekend call having switched ages ago with a classmate. It put me on call not with my normal partner, but rather my PA student BFF who'd I'd actually spent the week already on autopsy rotation with. So much togetherness! I also had a resident that I haven't worked with since July but really like (just one of those people that you meet and think, we should really be friends) and another resident that I'd only been with on one or two cases.

It was great! It is amazing how little it feels like work to be doing things with such happy fun people to be around. Even though it was my busiest week on autopsy ever and sometimes the gross sign out ran later in the day, I really enjoyed it. I also feel like I have a pretty good grasp of prosection now (except I need to practice heart cutting) and if left alone with a cadaver I could do it start to finish. I do struggle with never wanting to eviscerate. After cutting myself at the MEs officer I really don't want that to happen again. I know Duke is different and the way we eviscerate is a lot safer (ie: much less cutting while actually in the body cavity) we have patient history, etc, but... I'm still so reticent to do it. I need to get over that. I do. I think mostly it is a matter of forcing myself to just do it and face the fear. I know how to do it, I just don't want to.

This week I'm at the VA. It is a little different because it is just one PA student and one resident,
Durham VA
instead of two PA students. We do have medical students with us for a couple days so it doesn't feel as quiet. So far it has been pretty good. I had a couple large cases yesterday and lots of small biopsies. Nothing overwhelming and the resident helped out on smalls and mashed fat with me looking for lymph nodes. Slide sign out was good, and having medical students around means you get some interesting questions.

My ankle is absolutely killing me though. It really hurts after almost a month and a half of being nearly normal. I think it is the result of standing for autopsies for a week straight, not having the weekend to recover, and then being at the VA. Until you go without them for a while, you sometimes forget just how incredibly helpful those anti-fatigue mats are. Duke North has them, otherwise that rotation would have been miserable. I think I'm going to try sitting down and grossing as much as possible while here at the VA. I just feel less productive sitting down (although things still get grossed so it could be a psychological thing!).

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I still have the list of things meant to blog but not yet blogged... I will have to get to that eventually.

Spring break was spent driving back to South Carolina to help my husband repaint our old house, do some minor home improvements, and begin the process of ripping out our old kitchen to replace it. It was a very useful and productive week in many ways. We also did some house hunting and made an offer on a property in a better school district so when we move back to Columbia, it will be to a new location. We are going to keep our old house for a while though, and just see about renting it.

Shot mid-repaint and fireplace renovation.
I've had a month or so to adjust to the idea of moving back to SC and it has been an interesting process. I watched a documentary film with a friend last month which was one in a series where the same group of people are followed over the course of their lives every seven years. It started when the people were seven and they are now fifty-six (you can read the wikipedia article about it). It was a good thing for me to watch honestly.

It is frustrating to be so narrowly focused on one place when job hunting and increasingly disheartening to be asked (by seemingly everyone) about the likelihood of finding a PA job in the town where I used to live. It doesn't help that one of my classmates is also from there and will be employed with the hospital system he worked for before he started the program, so the possibility of them adding yet another position in the foreseeable future is minimal. The other hospital system is the one that I worked for and they have need of two staff PAs and already have those two. Both of them are settled, long term employees years away from retiring. It was rough several weeks of adjusting to the possibility of having to work somewhere else during the week and having to only see m
y family on weekends.

But, the documentary was very good for adding perspective. It reminded me that we all make plans in our lives and very rarely does life follow those plans. My husband and I had planned to pick up and move wherever I found a job, enjoying the idea of a new adventure somewhere we'd never been before. But now we are remaining where we were with every intention of putting down solid, actual roots. So we'll see how that goes. I feel much better about being limited in my job hunt now than I did this time last month. I'd much rather live with my husband and kids than... well basically more than any other alternative, but if I have to travel for a while then I'll travel as long as I have a home to come back to.

I've attempted to network, but none of the pathologists I know in SC know of any openings either (but it was still nice to see how they were doing, and it was really great that folks seemed genuinely pleased to hear from me). It is the nature of such things. I will hold tight for a while and just hope. Something will eventually come along and in the mean time I am very fortunate to have a safety net.