Hello again! After focusing on the fun of finals I want to tell you about the fun of hands on learning. We had several opportunities in Spring and Summer I modules to learn with our hands. I have found that when I review something in different ways I can better understand the concept and remember it.

This was particularly true with our cardiac section. Believe it or not there is a lot going on with the heart and a lot of things that can go wrong with it. One basic component of a cardiac physical exam is listening to the heart and interpreting the sounds you hear. Let me tell you this is hard! You think sure, no problem, but then you actually try to listen and one sound blends in to another and you get lost as to which is which, especially when you add on an abnormal heart beat.

This is where we bring in Harvey! Harvey is a sim man specifically built to help teach heart sounds. We were broken up into small groups and each group had the chance to spend time in the Harvey lab with then Professor Tonsor (now Professor Thurnes). We were each given a mock stethoscope connected to Harvey and Professor Thurnes had the teaching stethoscope. She could program any sound she wanted, and would demonstrate where on the chest the stethoscope should be placed to best hear a particular sound.  She described the sound and explained the underlying physiologic condition responsible for it. The ability to visualize the stethoscope placement and hear a certain heartbeat was very helpful! Not to mention the ability to hear the sounds as a class and talk one another through what we were hearing. Of course we are still in PA school so there was a Harvey Heart Sounds quiz. Professor Thurnes placed the stethoscope on several spots on Harvey, programmed different sounds, and then had us identify them. I was a little nervous, but we were well prepared for it.

Another fantastic hands on learning opportunity came before Summer I finals. One of our subjects in Summer I was the musculoskeletal system. In class we learned a lot about the different diagnostic techniques and imaging options available, including ultrasound. In order for us to better understand the ultrasound and get a hands on feel for how it works we spent several hours one afternoon in a PT classroom full of individual ultrasound machines. We had a great guest lecturer who uses ultrasound on a daily basis. He taught us about the machine itself, its uses, and how to actually operate it. Then we separated into small groups, 3-4 students to a machine, and got to try it out for ourselves! We imaged knees, shoulders, and more! We identified the different structures we could visualize and described what they would look like if there was an injury. It was so neat! I’ve had a few knee surgeries myself and so it was fascinating to use the ultrasound to “visualize” the screws and whatnot that is still in there (you can’t actually see the screw but there is a visual effect it causes so you know it’s there). It was a fun couple of hours and I learned a lot so it was a double bonus!

I can’t forget to mention our hands on opportunity to learn about casting. Again we had a fantastic guest lecturer come in to walk us through the basics of how to apply a cast. We had the opportunity to work through the casting process. It was super fun!

Check out the pics below and you can see how much fun learning can be!