Program Update: Fall Finals, Year 2

Posted By: Paul   |   School Life   |   2 Comments

Hi, all.  Rather than go a week without any posts, I thought I’d drop a line to give the skinny on the recent program and site developments.  Hopefully this will tide you over until next week, when I have new posts planned:

  1. This week we have Fall Year 2 finals.  Wednesday is an exam on pulmonology, Thursday one on geriatrics, and Friday is infectious diseases.  Needless to say, the stress level is quite high.  We’ve been tested on these subjects before, but as we learn more and develop a deeper understanding of the medicine, we’re tested on more complicated concepts.  These days almost all of our tests questions involve vignettes.  An easier example from our year 1 pulmonology series follows, for your voyeuristic enjoyment: A 55 y.o. chronic alcoholic man is found wondering on the street and brought to the emergency room by paramedics. The patient has a high fever, a cough, productive gelatinous red sputum, and difficulty breathing. Examination of the chest reveals wheezes and rales over the left lower zone and a chest x-ray film confirms pneumonia. Gram stain of the sputum reveals rather large gram-negative bacteria, and large mucoid colonies grow on agar. Which of the following is the most likely pathogen?  A) Klebsiella pneumoniae  B) Legionella pneumophila  C) Mycopolasma pneumoniae  D) Streptococcus pneumonia.  You might be wondering how this question from last year is different from the kind we get this year.  In year two, the question stem might be similar, but instead asking you to choose the pathogen, you might be asked for the medication to treat it, or the definitive test to determine the pathogen.  To explain, first order questions ask for plain facts (i.e., “What are the common pathogens seen in pneumonia?”).  The above question about the 55 year-old male is a second-order question, meaning it requires you to understand both the fact, and a concept that uses that fact (“The patient with blah blah details has pneumonia, blah blah – what is the likely pathogen?  Answer: Klebsiella pneumoniae.)  This year, we have third-order questions  (“The patient with blah blah details presents with blah blah – what is the medication of choice for the patient’s condition?”).  Here you need to know the fact, a concept about that fact, and be able to apply that concept to a hypothetical situation to show a complete knowledge of the topic.  To learn more about these terms, you can read up on Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Brilliant stuff.
  2. My hospital rotations will begin after New Year’s.  I will be doing one rotation each of: inpatient medicine, women’s health/OB/GYN, psychiatry, geriatrics, ER, and surgery (cardiothoracic, in my case).  Rotations range from 2-4 weeks, 12 hours per day, 6 days per week.  When not doing a rotation or studying for an exam, we continue seeing patients in our primary care clinic.  Needless to say, I’m tired just describing this schedule. 
  3. The Inside PA Training smartphone app is coming along.  I still can’t promise a release date, but I can tell you it will have all the features of the blog, plus extras like a medical terminology flashcard applet, a US map of all the PA programs, and more.  Super excited!  If you have a good idea for another extra, please send it in – we’re all ears!
  4. If you haven’t visited our completely free Inside PA Training Forum yet, you should.  We already have 75 threads on various aspects of choosing PA medicine, getting into PA school, and PA careers.  Get involved – it’s a great way to learn and network!

Thanks for your continuing readership and positive feedback – this site owes everything to you…    -P


  1. Luisa Torres November 30, 2011 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Hi Paul,

    Congrats on starting you rotations! It sounds very exciting! I have been following your website for months and is a very informative and helpful resource for me. I actually have an interview this Saturday here in Texas for the PA program! If you could give me any pointers, that would be very helpful! I am nervous but excited to have this opportunity to meet with the admissions committee.

  2. Paul December 1, 2011 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Sure. First, do your homework on the program you’re interviewing for. Here’s an article on a fast way to do that: The Secret to Acing Any Interview (Not Just for PA Students)

    And, as an overview: 10 Steps to Acing Your Physician Assistant Interview.

    Hope that helps!

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