Reflecting on my first quarter, it has been both exciting and challenging. I began not knowing what to expect. That first morning in the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, I met an incredible group of people: faculty, staff and students. One of the things that struck me right away was how diverse, interesting, and professionally well prepared my classmates were. Quickly we have become a family where each person is valued and brings something unique to the group. As graduate education is both rewarding and incredibly rigorous, the fact that OHSU fosters a non-competitive, collaborative environment was one of the many factors that made it my first program of choice. I feel very fortunate to progress on this journey with a group of people who support one another and to be able to work with incredibly knowledgeable faculty and staff who are 100% invested in our success.
The past quarter has had several highlights. I am astounded at the amount I have learned in such a short time! For example, in the past two months, I have learned how to perform a head to toe physical examination. Next quarter, I look forward to putting these skills to use when I begin my clinical mentorship with a PA practicing in family medicine. Further, last week the first year PA students attended an event called Grand Rounds where second clinical-year students presented a patient case to their peers and faculty. I was happy to realize that after only two whirlwind months, I was not only able to understand the content of their presentation but think clinically through the questions they presented. They did great!
The most exciting experience of the quarter without a doubt was the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) that my class participated in right before the end of summer term. This OSCE is a set of interactions with “standardized” patients: actors hired for us to practice our newly acquired skills on and work out all of our awkward new-provider moments (evidently, a solid minute of silence while I sit in front of the patient and think of what to say next does not inspire confidence). Putting on my white coat and formally stepping into my new role for the first time was both exciting and a little bit scary. The day went well and was a lot of fun! I was even able to detect a heart murmur. After practicing on so many “normal patients” (my classmates), it was an excellent reinforcement of the caliber of my skills and the education I am receiving.
It has been a challenging and exciting few months. Although it is no secret that PA school is extremely busy, I have found that I am also constantly improving in my ability to be efficient with my time, leaving some for family, friends and trails. In addition to some serious time spent hitting the books, I have still found time to hike, kayak, bike, run, cook, do laundry (most of the time) and even catch up on Game of Thrones. So, in sum, over the past two months I have learned: 1. It’s tough 2. It’s great 3. I can totally do it! To anyone considering it, I highly recommend it.