It’s Sunday, the last day of my Spring Break, and I am now mentally and physically preparing for my next rotation, Pediatrics, which begins tomorrow morning. This week flew by, but it was a welcomed break. Last week, I completed my 4-week Orthopedics rotation on Wednesday then went back to DPAP Thursday and Friday for call-back days, which were busy. We took the Packrat for the second time, completed observed, mock patient exams on first-year students (our patients), took end-of-rotation exams (which I was fortunate to not have this time since Orthopedics was an elective), and had a number of lectures and discussions, geared towards helping us prepare for the transition that is fast approaching…the change from PA-S to PA-C. It was a busy schedule of activities with a little time in-between to catch up with our DPAP family.
At the start of this clinical year, four weeks felt a lot longer, and, after spending most of each week together during the didactic year, it was like a big reunion each time we all returned to DPAP for call-back days. But, as the faculty stressed to us many times, the rotations go by really fast, and those long months between visits now feel much shorter. This time that is especially true, because we will be together again next weekend for graduation. Wow. It’s hard to believe that is already here.
Only three more month-long rotations, an intense review, and the PANCE stand between me and my first days as a certified PA. I teeter between feelings of eager excitement and shear panic. I am much more comfortable with the patients I see in rotation, and there have been many! And I have gained confidence with my increasing independence, which I have more of than I expected to have. There have been many days when I have felt that it all was coming together and I was on-point clinically, but there have been just as many days when I have felt completely overwhelmed by how much I don’t know.
One of my preceptors told me, “Medicine is like the ocean…the more you get into it, the more there is.” It certainly can be daunting. Fortunately, we are given blueprints to follow to ensure that we know what we need to know for each unit, partly for the end-of-rotation exams, leading up to the PANCE, but mostly in preparation for real-world practice. This weekend, I have been reviewing pediatric milestones and common illnesses in preparation for my first day in pediatrics clinic tomorrow. From what I read on the student discussion forum, I will be working with a number of different preceptors in three different clinic sites, and the sites have very good reviews from other/previous students. I’m very excited to finally see more kiddos, since I haven’t seen many in other rotations (other than my own two daughters who have been my “patients” many times). [A few times I did see babies in primary care, but I didn’t learn a thing. I don’t think I paid any attention to my preceptor, and I’m sure I made more than a normal amount of goofy baby sounds. I do intend to focus more this time and maintain professionalism. It’s all part of learning, I’m sure.]
My suit is clean, and I won’t need my white coat for this rotation, since some children are frightened by it. My clinic bag is packed. My iPod is charging. I will enjoy the rest of the evening with my family, make my lunch for tomorrow, go to bed reasonably early, and wake up at 4:00 am to review some more and prepare before heading out at 6:45; that should get me to the clinic 15 minutes early, just enough time to get my bearings before meeting my new, although temporary, team…a new group of colleagues and mentors.
Another first day awaits. The journey to PA-C is almost over, but part of me will always be a PA-S, swimming steadily to learn and understand more and more medicine. Tonight, though, I will just be mommy and wife.