Hello Again

So, it’s been a while. Hello.

I disappeared all of my second year. It got crazy busy to say the least. I hopped around all over the place. I started at the Coroner’s Office, then to UC Davis, then went all the way to New York for Sloan Kettering, then back to CA to finish up at San Leandro and Modesto. So, it’s been a little crazy. I apologize.

I wish I kept this blog up more so I’d have more memories to share with all of you (if there’s anyone left reading this blog). But suffice it to say, it’s been a very long road to get here. By here, I mean finished with the program, graduated, and most importantly, CERTIFIED.

I learned a lot in the past year. More than you ever could in a classroom or a book. Having an entire year of basically on the job training makes a huge difference. Everything suddenly clicks and those fuzzy pictures you looked at during lecture or confusing charts in books finally makes sense. Oh, so THAT’S what you mean by nutmeg liver. Oh, THAT’S a tumor. Omg, that’s a leg. Ugh, placentas are so bloody and membrane rolls suck. Who knew breasts could be a pain to cut when not fixed properly? There’s bile everywhere! And gallstones! And what do you mean I didn’t find enough lymph nodes?! How is 15 not enough? Oh wait, not all of them were lymph nodes. Back to search the fat.

If none of that made sense, I don’t blame you. If it did, welcome to my world. If you’re a student in a current program or wanting to apply, it will soon make sense to you. A word of caution: when you first see a POC (product of conception), it may be a little shocking to you. That’s all I’ll say on that. I hope your first rotation warns you of that in case you’re a little sensitive. (And there’s no shame in that. Be up front about what you’re comfortable with, but eventually you will get desensitized to it as horrible as it sounds. It is a part of our job after all.)

I was fortunate to rotate at awesome places with great staff and interesting specimens. I may not have been able to gross all the super complex ones, but I did get to see some of them if I was lucky enough for one to come by.

After we finished in May, we had to wait about a month for the actual ceremony to happen in June. It was a good ceremony. We were all very happy to be there even if only me and one of my other friends from my class were the only ones that showed up for the PathA program. It was a very proud moment to finally get dressed in our fancy Drexel gowns and walk across that stage. My blue and gold hood is awesome.

Then I took the certification exam in August. I know, it seems late for some who want to take it right away, but my brain needed a break and I wanted to study some more. I wanted to make sure I could pass on my first try because I was not gonna spend another small fortune to take this exam again. Luckily, I did pass my first time. Now I get to use those special letters after my name to make it look all fancy and official.

In September, I did some traveling. Did a two week cruise to the Mediterranean which was so gorgeous. Omg. Greece is beyond beautiful. Italy had some fantastic food. The one day we spent in Turkey was also lovely. All these countries are so beautiful. Seriously, if none of you have been there, you should do it at one point in your life. You will not regret it. Especially Santorini, Greece. That was my absolute fav and I wish we could’ve stayed there longer.

Now, I’m job hunting. It’s a good place to be in right now. Everything is all lined up and taken care of now that I’m certified. I don’t need to tell a future employer my exam date and have that added pressure. I have the letters after my name that says it all. So wish me luck! I want to pick the best place for me.

I’ll try and update this a little more frequently. It won’t be all about my job or the program in every post, but I figure this is my blog and my life, I can post whatever I want, right? 😛

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Year Two

I’m officially a Second Year now.

So, in April I…

  • turned a year older
  • received my White Coat with my name embroidered all fancy on it, which also happened on my bday
  • took a bunch of finals and completed my classes (AAP technically finished the beginning of May but whatever)

Now I’m officially into my first rotation. I just completed my first week actually at the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office. And I am having a BLAST! I’m seeing so many cases you wouldn’t see anywhere else. I’ve seen suspected elderly abuse/neglect, suicide by firearm, firearm victims, motor vehicle accident victims, and I even experienced my first decomp yesterday! Most of the people who work there are super nice and patient with me as I learn the ropes. The other interns that come in once a week are super cool, too. The pathologists are nice and helpful for the most part.

It’s physically demanding and draining more than anything. There’s a lot of pushing, pulling, lifting bodies. Not to mention constant cleaning and scrubbing. I’m learning to pull bodily fluids like blood and vitreous from the eye. I can sew up bodies and the head after they’ve been eviscerated like no other. I’m slowly getting to do more and more, which is so exciting. I’ll never get this anywhere else so I’m trying to soak up as much as I can and do as much as possible. This is my wheelhouse. Full body stuff as opposed to surgical. I didn’t spend all those years in cadaver class for nothing.

I’m also going to be the Gross Anatomy TA for the new first years (omg, that’s so weird to say). They asked me if I would be willing to since they’ll be coming to the Coroner’s for lab, and I said why not. I did this forever at Mt. SAC. I can do it again. Plus it’ll be a good way for me to practice my anatomy too. And I’ll get to work on cadavers again. Wheelhouse again.

So far, I’m enjoying my second year much more than my first. When I went to visit my program manager to pick up some masks, the first thing she told me was, “This is the most relaxed I’ve ever seen you.” It’s true. This is the most relaxed I’ve felt in a long, long time. It’s nice. I can enjoy doing what I do without worrying about lecture and tons of exams. We only have the monthly pathology exams starting in June. So right now I can kind of take it easy. It’s a welcome change of pace, for sure. I hope that it continues being this awesome.

Awesome News!

For once! I finally have something really positive to say!

THE NEXT CLASS WILL BE COMING IN MAY!!!

Despite the previous post about Drexel Sac closing, Tina and everyone worked super hard to get the next class in. This program isn’t dead yet. All the work put into these rotation sites and setting up this program on the West won’t go down the drain after all. It’s just a matter of where it’ll be located next. They’re technically taking away our fancy classrooms, but it seems this program is here to stay… somewhere. We’ll just need classroom space for future classes, since everything else is off site. For example, Coroner’s office for gross anatomy, AAP in Kaiser South Sac, Histotech at UC Davis. The rest just need a room with desks, chairs, a computer and a projector to lecture in. Hopefully that’ll get set up during the next year or so, so when we leave One Capitol Mall, it’ll just be a different building maybe somewhere else in Sacramento. That’s purely speculation. I have zero idea, and I bet the higher ups have no idea where to go next. Who knows, classes could be held at Davis or in some crazy building they rent out in the middle of nowhere. 😛

I’m just glad we won’t be the last class! There’s one more! I was looking forward to kind of ‘mentoring’ the next class in the same way the second years have done with us. Pay it forward kind of thing. So major congratulations on the brand new class of 2017! (I bet you all can breathe now, am I right? ;)) I can’t wait to meet you all in a couple of months.

Sad Day

I know I always seem to post sad things lately, and unfortunately, I have more bad news.

Drexel Sacramento is closing.

We just found out this morning. They announced that Drexel Sac will close and no new students will be admitted in Fall. They will stay open until the very last class graduates, and then, they shut down for good. I don’t know why. I don’t know what this means for the PathA program or for the new incoming class. I don’t know anything. I’m hoping the Sacramento/Bay Area rotation sites will still be available for future classes, but there won’t be a campus here. I don’t know what will happen to faculty and staff.

I don’t know a thing.

All I know is my class will be the second and last PathA class to graduate from Drexel Sac. (Unless they miraculously let the next class in in May.) We will be able to continue and finish the program here, which is a relief. Because if I suddenly had to relocate to Philly to finish this program, I’d be beyond angry right now. Instead, I’m heartbroken and I’ve been trying not to cry all day. I was able to put my emotions aside during my physio exam today, but now that it’s over, it’s hitting me.

This was everything I strived for, and I got in. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. The Lord somehow found a way to let me continue going to school in California like I wanted, in the program that I wanted, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m sad that future students won’t be able to experience and meet all the kind and wonderful people on this faculty and staff. They are seriously the nicest and most hardworking people here. They put up with our demands and our crazy moods, listen to us vent, especially when we have a lot of exams, and do it with a smile. I truly hope that they do find other opportunities soon.

It seems like this really came out of left field. Everyone is suddenly busy and scrambling, so this must be new to them as well. I don’t know what else will happen with the other DUCOM programs here. Or the business/education/etc. programs either. I’m sure there will be future announcements heading our way and I’ll keep everyone who reads my blog up to date as much as I can. I can’t even imagine what is going on through my program director’s head right now. All that hard work to get this program up and running — the first on the west coast — suddenly up in smoke.

I know when I graduate, I’ll look back at all of this fondly. Despite all the stress this program has put me through, I can truly say that I’m one of 10 who had the privilege of being in the Drexel Sac PathA program.

a bit of a downer

It’s been nearly a month since my last post, but my goal of posting once or twice a month is still working out. It’s only half way through Feb. Although where the heck January went, I have no idea. I feel like everything is going by too quickly and too slowly at the same time.

My first year is almost done and yet I still feel horribly inadequate. It’s ridiculous really. I don’t know how we’re supposed to shove all this info into our little brains and remember it all. I don’t understand why Physio is taught in the last semester of didactic work instead of the first. I don’t know why I didn’t do so much better on that neuro path exam I had last Thursday when I knew most of that material. It’s embarrassing really, how badly I’m sure I did. They’re going to think I’m an absolute idiot when they see some of the answers I put down. I’m so mad at myself.

Hopefully I can redeem myself a little bit this week since I don’t have any exams for once. I gave myself this weekend off to give my brain a break and replenish my energy in terms of sleep. Although it seems like the entire world is against me sleeping in. I’ve been a bit grumpier because of that. I’m trying not to be, but all I want to do is rest. And forget about everything for a little bit. But it’s hard to do that with constant exams and having to drive back and forth to my parents place every weekend to take care of stuff.

I also need to get better at AAP. I’m absolutely horrendous at dictations. I need to sit down and just read them out loud. Get used to hearing my own voice and speaking punctuation. For some reason I always forget to say ‘period’ at the end of every sentence. It’s unnatural to say ‘comma’ and ‘period’ and ‘quote’ and ‘hyphen’ out loud. Most people instinctively write it, never having to actually dictate it out loud. And my vocabulary is so limited. I don’t know which special big scientific words would be better used to describe all these different lesions on all these different specimens. Ugh. I’m just so terrible. It doesn’t help when half of the group has so much experience with this and I’m pretty much left in the dust, despite all my shadowing experience.

As you can tell, I’m pretty easily discouraged by this. Clearly, it’s not helping me. I need to get over this mental and self-confidence issue somehow, then maybe I’ll be able to feel better about myself. I need to try. I guess that’s my main problem. I’m too scared to give it a shot and look like a fool.

I need to get over myself.

Quick, someone give me a kick in the rear. I’ve lost my drive.