Final Reflection

What is new? 

I think that overall the expectations for all of us were much higher in the fall and that the cases brought forward were more complex than those in the summer. This makes sense, because as we learned more and got closer to starting rotations, it was expected that we would be able to solve harder cases. In a sense, the summer semester was more of an introduction into the class whereas the fall semester was the actual class. The range of cases also was new in the fall. In the summer most of the cases were emergency medicine cases, whereas in the fall we also saw pediatric cases with Professor Maida.

What skills have you developed over the course?

I have strengthened my ability to develop a strong differential diagnosis list and supply reasoning for my thoughts. One of the most important parts of the class was engaging and answering questions, whether you were certain of the answer or not. The main purpose was to verbalize something and be able to give a reason behind your thought process. In the beginning that was very difficult for me, but with practice, that sort of reasoning and critical thinking became easier for me to achieve.

What was surprising or challenging?

¬†Definitely the most challenging thing for me was developing differential diagnoses. I remember that in the summer I questioned myself and my knowledge because I could barely even come up with three different differentials for a patient. I was told that that level of thinking is a skill and needs to be practiced. I pushed myself to come up with differentials for made up patients and eventually got to a point where I felt comfortable in my ability to make a list that wouldn’t miss major differentials. I hope that over rotations I will continue to practice this skill and get even better.

What resources did you find most helpful? Which ones will you use going forward in the clinical year?

Using Uptodate has been really helpful for me. It provides an easy to read and navigate resource for any (or most) medical information that you may need. I will continue to use this resource during my rotations to help me learn about cases I may see and find information for any assignments I may have.

What have you learned about yourself throughout this class?

I have always known that I am more reserved and not the most outspoken person. However, what I learned about myself is that when I push myself a little bit out of my comfort zone I can share my thoughts and knowledge. I gained the understanding that you don’t always need to be right, as long as you can verbalize your thoughts. This has helped me grow as a student and future medical provider because with that gained knowledge and my willingness to step outside of my comfort zone I have been able to share and gain knowledge.

Have you changed your opinions/beliefs about any aspects of practice as a result of this course?

Being that this was my first real exposure to diagnosing and treating patients I didn’t really have much experience or expectations for the flow of the work. Everything I knew was from classes and based on textbook cases. However, after going through this class I have learned and understood that patients really don’t read textbooks. Not all labs that you expect to be wrong will be actually wrong, but that does not necessarily exclude the diagnosis.

What would you advise the students in the class behind you about this course?

I would tell students from the class behind me to enjoy this class. In the beginning it is very uncomfortable; after every class in the beginning I questioned my knowledge and ability to be a PA. However, after practice and effort you gain valuable skills and the class ended up being my favorite class over the whole didactic course. Another piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid to speak up and share what you know. No-one will remember the mistakes you made, and it is worth the chance to speak up and show what you know.