I never thought I would say that I love Mondays, but second semester has ushered in an appreciation for this infamously dreaded day. As class comes to a close on Monday afternoons I gather all of my exam equipment, a note pad, my white coat, and I am filled with enthusiasm as I head to Duke Regional Hospital.
Every Monday, as part of Patient Assessment and Counseling II (PACII), our class heads out in small groups to meet with working Physician Assistant instructors at various locations across Durham. In PACII we get to put into actual practice skills that we learned in the first semester during Patient Assessment and Counseling I.
When I arrive at Duke Regional I head up to the Internal Medicine Conference Room. We kick off every Monday by presenting the patients we saw the week prior. It is a great chance to read over my classmates clinical encounter notes, to hear my classmates present, and to be critiqued by our instructor.
After presenting our instructor fields the many questions my classmates and I have. The questions range from clinical ones, often things we encountered the week prior, to just general questions about our instructor’s job. One of my favorite parts of this experience is the opportunity to learn a little about working in Internal Medicine.
I am excited to receive my new patient for the day. The great thing about being assigned to Internal Medicine is that I get exposure to a new set of problems each Monday. I have seen everything from a patient admitted for an exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to a patient admitted for bilateral deep vein thromboses. The patients typically are not straight forward, and I like the challenge.
After receiving my patient I head over to the inpatient floors with the rest of my group. I typically stop at the nurse’s station first to pull the patient’s file and write down all of the patient’s medication and dosing. The patient’s medication list provides me with a small amount of insight into the patient’s past medical history. Then it is off to meet my patient for the day.
From the start of PACII we gradually built up to performing a complete history and physical on our patients. So my patient encounter begins with a thorough history of present illness and review of systems and ends with a full physical. My experience is typically patient dependent. Some patients are frustrated with the extra attention and some enjoy it.
Overall I am very pleased with my PACII experience. I feel it gives us as students a chance to ease into seeing patients in a real clinical setting. I appreciate the challenges and victories I have had throughout the semester and the availability of my instructor to help guide me. I anxiously anticipate the beginning of clinical year and the ability to spend more time in clinically applying my new knowledge.