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Ok. It’s getting close to the end of the year and I’ve got a BUNCH of things I want to catch you up on. I have a surprise for you but you will have to come back tomorrow to find out what it is (It’s a GREAT surprise! Trust me, you don’t wanna miss out!).  So before that, I want to tell you about some of the wonderful things that happened this year and that I never had the opportunity to share with you.

Let’s go back, way back to the Summer II module. This module we only had two classes: Emergency Medicine and Surgery. It was in these classes where we really got the chance to get our hands dirty. We learned a lot of practical skills that are going to stick with us for the rest of our careers. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity practice on one another, but we did get to practice on pig’s feet and mannequins. I know I learned a lot and feel better prepared for clinicals. We learned how to fill a syringe and give injections. We then got to practice injecting saline into oranges and pig’s feet. We also learned several types of suturing techniques. We were given suture kits and pigs feet and lots of time to practice. We learned how to put in IVs, do arterial blood gasses, and place chest tubes. We learned how to place a nasogastric tube, to intubate and more! We also learned the appropriate way to tie knots. I didn’t even know that was a thing! As I mentioned the program supplied us with plastic models to practice each of these skills on. Several fantastic surgical techs came in to help teach us the correct way to scrub in and get ready for our surgery rotation and time in the operating room. We had so much fun in these classes! You can check out the pictures below to see just how much fun. (We were kept in the same group for most of these experiences so a lot of these pictures are of my group and of the same people. Sorry!)

At the end of our anatomy class we put our donors aside for a few months until our reproductive medicine class. We then had a chance to spend a few more hours with our donors reviewing these systems. At that point in the program we were finished learning everything we could from our donors and had the opportunity to prepare them to be returned to their families. To celebrate and thank our donors for the invaluable experience they gave us, we held a donor ceremony. We gathered together and spoke about the things we had learned from our donors. We shared some of the emotional experiences and spiritual moments that we had felt throughout our time with them. Several people had written thank you cards to the donors themselves and to the donor’s families for providing an invaluable opportunity to learn from them. It was very important to our program and to our professor that we remembered all that we had learned from our donors—not just the hard facts, like the names of the structures and function of the muscles, but also the important facts, like to maintain an awe for the human body and remember that each person is unique. To help us remember these things they provided us with these amazing dog tags. They are beautiful and help commemorate what an amazing and priceless experience this was. The quote from Da Vinci, the original anatomist, says it all, “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards.”

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Like I mentioned above we had a reproductive medicine class which is where we learned all about the diseases and problems that each gender can face. We also had the opportunity to learn about the miracle of birth and problems that can happen during that period. We were able to view a video of a baby’s birth and also to work through the birthing process with a life size mechanical model. It was an… interesting experience. Not gonna lie, there were a few students who expressed their desire to not have kids for a while after that. J We also learned the proper way to do male and female pelvic physical exams. These exams can be especially uncomfortable if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing. Thankfully Elon is aware of this and provided us with an opportunity to practice these skills on teaching associates from Eastern Virginia Medical School. EVMS has a large standardized patient program and they have people trained to teach and demonstrate the pelvic exam. We are broken up into small groups and go through the process with teaching associate. They discussed and demonstrated the physical exam technique, and then provided us opportunity to preform it. It was an amazing learning opportunity. The teaching associates were marvelous. I am so grateful I was able to practice these skills before preforming them on actual patients.

In the midst of our busy schedule, we had the chance to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. We got to spend an afternoon painting, landscaping, and putting on a few finishing touches of a house that Habitat for Humanity had built in just 10 days. I had a blast! I managed to get more paint on the walls then I did on myself, but it was close. There are some pictures below that show just what a good time it was. I truly feel that taking time to serve and help those around you is one of the best ways to de-stress and reset your mind and spirit. I’m so grateful for our outreach coordinator who helped set up that opportunity (and others).

Ok. The last thing I want to share with you, although there are so many more experiences I can’t count them, is the Underserved Populations Symposium. We had the opportunity to take a class titled special populations. This class is split into three sections: pediatrics, geriatrics, and vulnerable populations. Near the end of the class we had a full day dedicated to hearing outside presentations from people living in or serving in underserved populations. It’s an annual symposium put on by the program. This year the symposium focused on healing from a spiritual and physical perspective, as well as what healing means to us in a clinical sense. We heard from several amazing speakers including our university Chaplain Jan Fuller, CEO and founder of Sow Much Good, Robin Emmons, Dr. Larry Burke, and Brittany Wiseman, PA-S in the Class of 2017. We also had the chance to hear from several cancer survivors. They shared their experiences and their personal perspective on healing as a whole person, in body, mind and spirit. For more information about the symposium you can follow this link to Elon news which goes into a little more depth. http://www.elon.edu/E-Net/Article/139678 It was a very interesting day where we learned a lot. It was a good reminder on taking a step back and seeing the patient as a whole, as more than just a disease process or state but as a human being with a background, culture, and personal beliefs.

So that’s it for now. Come back tomorrow to learn about our AWESOME surprise!

-Dani

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