Transition to Clinicals

Hello again from the class of 2020! Along with our most fond farewells and congratulations to the class of 2019. They have graduated with a PANCE pass rate of 100% for the class and are moving on to represent this wonderful program as PA-Cs! Congratulations!  

In the last 4 months my classmates and I have been scattered on the wind like so many dandelion seeds. Rotations have taken us to many different places from Georgia to Virginia and more! Being out with patients and practitioners is a breath of fresh air from the books and lectures of last year. I vividly remember my first day in January, walking into a pediatric clinic with sweating hands and a pounding heart.

It is hard to believe that we are now nearing the end of rotation 3. Between strep tests and ear checks in Peds in January, fetal heart tones and PHQ-9s in Women’s and Behavioral in February and March, and now the hustle of Surgery; the months have raced by. The exams and quizzes of last year were stressful, but I’ve realized that everyday is a test of sorts in clinicals. I’m presented daily with real people who are actually sick. Their cases often don’t come with clinical triads or hallmark symptoms. The challenge now is beginning to recognize it anyway. Rotations are all about cementing the knowledge that we worked so hard last year to introduce and now add to it the real life experiences that will help it stay. As a major hands-on learner I have found that the real learning has begun in earnest.

The great thing is that I’m learning much more than just presenting symptoms and diagnoses. So often I think people want medicine to be a ‘science’, but I realize more and more that it is very much a human art.

Several times in the last few months I have been struck with awe. Awe, as I listened to newborn lungs, whose first breath was only days ago. Awe, as I talked with a 98 year old who readily gave me, a student less than one third her age, delicate details of her life with complete trust. Awe, as I stood gently holding human intestines while a surgeon cut and cauterized beneath them. Each of these experiences momentarily took my breath away as I realized the responsibility that I am being trained to take on. Being a medical provider inherently comes with a weight of trust from patients that is sincerely awe inspiring to me. Patients will reveal things to us that they would never dream of telling any other stranger. We are trusted to medicate, cut and poke them. Learning to respect and build that trust is one of the most important things we can learn during clinical year.

Treating people and not diseases requires listening, empathy, counseling and so much more. It is something that I will likely spend my whole career working to perfect. I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with preceptors and see how each of them works with the human side of medicine a little differently. What I have learned about the ‘art’ side of medicine from each individual will permanently affect the way I practice after I graduate.

I can only imagine how much more I will glean between now and next February and eagerly look forward to each opportunity.

-Naomi Landry PA-S class of 2020