How to study for the PANCE

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 05-11-2010

I think the title of this post says it all, but let me also say that THIS METHOD OF STUDYING MY NOT WORK FOR YOU!

Basically what I’m trying to say is that you have to find your own studying method for the PANCE, but this is what worked for me.

First I sat aside a good 4 weeks to do nothing but study for the PANCE.

Ok, so to study I really used one book.  That book was “A comprehensive review for the certification and recertification examinations for physician assistants: published in collaboration with AAPA and PAEA.”

I basically went chapter by chapter reading every word.  When I hit a subject that I didn’t know much about or felt that there wasn’t enough info provided, I would use the Lange Current medical diagnosis book.

My warning with the AAPA review book that I used is that it is a REVIEW book.  It does a great job of covering almost all topics, but does not dive into great detail.  If you feel you need more details you will have to look for another book.

In my opinion the AAPA review book is just what you need.  If you have made it to the point of taking the PANCE,  you shouldn’t have to look up every single detail.  Your reviewing should be more of an overview.  A lot of the material you should already know, but just need a refresher and kick to remember all that you have learned.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There were tons of things that I read during my review and didn’t remember learning at all during my 2 years in PA school.  In that case I read the review and then used Lange and the internet to learn the important stuff.

I know what a lot of people say doing tons of questions is the right thing to do…and I think I have to agree with them.  Do as many questions as you can…be it the Kaplan online question banks or a book such as Davis’s Review book.

I actually liked Davis’s.  It starts with a bunch of questions that can have multiple correct answers.  At first it is frustrating when you don’t get all the answers, but as time goes on you figure out that it is actually a help.  It does a great job of explaining why each answer is right or wrong and the questions are labeled with the organ system they accompany so you can get an idea of what subjects you aren’t doing well in.

So that is how I studied in a nut shell. 

I spent about 4-6 hours a day for the 3 or so weeks reading.

I also spent the day before the exam having fun.  I think I went out to the beach and ate some good food before returning home to watch a movie and then hit the bed.

And make sure to get enough sleep!

Another word of advice I can give is to check out the testing location before you go.  Mine was actually kind of hidden, so it was a good thing I checked it out a few days before hand.

And my biggest advice of all is this…


Last Rotation and Finding a Job

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 01-11-2010

So my last rotation as a PA student was in Savannah, Georgia with an Orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery.

There was a lot to learn about the spine and the different techniques needed to test for spinal issues.  I have to say that I tried my best to study everything spinal I could.

I have never seen surgeries so delicate, yet invasive.  And I LOVED IT.

I guess a lot of that had to also do with the fact that the doctor I worked with was also great.

Needless to say, I was offered a job the last day of my rotation.  You can’t believe how excited I was.

I wish I could offer you tons of advice on job hunting and interviews, but this is one subject that i’m going to have to say, ‘I’m no help”.

I can say that someone who graduated from PA school with me went on my interviews before she found the job that she really liked.  Her advice was to just answer all questions truthfully.  If you are asked if you have knowledge about something and you don’t, say you don’t, but that you hope to learn as much as you can if you get the job.

As my story goes, I took a little time off after finishing PA school and getting my job offer.  I think it was 3 or so weeks.

In that short time, I studied like a mad man for the BOARD exam….more to come about that in the next post.

True Blood Pumpkin Carving Stencils

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 19-10-2010

I know this is way off topic from the typical Physician Assistant stuff, but as I am a HUGE Trueblood fan, I thought it was only right to pass this on to other fans as well.

Below you will find stencils that you can use to create a Trueblood halloween pumpkin.

I’m going to try them out ASAP so i’ll let you know how well they work.

And on a side note, i’m typing up post as we speak to update my PA experiences!


You can find the stencils after the break…in other words click the “read the rest” link below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Site Update

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 08-10-2010

Yes!  This site is still active and I am still alive.

Things have been very busy, actually becoming a PA and all :)

I’ll sit down this weekend and tell you about everything…board exam, job, learning curve…the whole deal.

So stay tuned!

Elective rotation in Orthopaedics

Filed Under (Rotations) by Dave on 06-05-2010

So for my elective rotation I went with orthopaedic surgery.  More specially orthopaedic hand surgery.

Well to be clear the doctor I was with was a hand specialist, but saw patients with any type of orthopaedic problem.

I was really caught off guard by how much I enjoyed this rotation. There was a good balance between clinic work and time spent in surgery.

I actually got to assist in many hand surgeries such as carpal tunnel and trigger fingers and also got to do total knee and hip replacements.  There were actually a few times I got to assist other doctors with things like ACL repairs, clavicle repair and amputations.

The one thing I can say about orthopaedics is that it is a field of its own.  Like a lot of fields in medicine, there is a whole different language for orthopaedics.

I have to say, I went into this rotation thinking I was pretty good at reading x-rays, but quickly found out there was a lot to learn.  I think I came out of this rotation being able to quickly and effectively read x-rays.

One of the tricks that I learned was to look at the site of injury last.  For example, if you know that the patient hurt their right wrist, look at the fingers and distal forearm first and then look at the wrist.  I was told this is a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything.  Lets say you get really focused on the wrist injury and only look at that on the x-ray.  There may have been a secondary break somewhere that isn’t hurting yet that you missed on the x-ray but could have found.

Anyway, so i’m now sure that orthopaedics is where I want to end up!

OK now for books and things that are a real help for orthopaedics: -Not really a book, but it has everything you will need as a student and then some.  There are many pictures and everthing is in an outline form that is easy to read and understand.  Best of all you can click on a bone of the skeleton and learn about anything you could ever want to know about it.

Looking for a South University PA student!

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 08-03-2010

I’m looking for a South University PA student.  That would be South University in Savannah, GA.  If you are a student there  currently in clinical rotations or about to be in clinical rotations could you please use the CONTACT US link on the top bar and just send me a comment saying you are a student.  I have a question that only a South Student can answer!

Thanks so much!

Psychiatry Rotation

Filed Under (Rotations) by Dave on 07-03-2010

So for the past month I have been on my Psychiatry rotation at the Medical College of Georgia.

One of the first things I can say about this rotation is that you are always working with Residents.  I get more into that in a moment.

I was actually on this rotation with another of my fellow PA students.  The every first day of the rotation we were split up and put onto different teams.  There were actually 3 teams on the Psych ward.  There was a team dealing mainly with schizophrenic patients, a team dealing with personality disorders, detox and the such and a team that dealt only with geriatrics.

I was placed on the team that dealt with schizophrenic patients first.  On this team I was working with two residents and a medical student.  The man role that we, the students played was collateral gatherers.  On this team we were to arrive at 7am and starting seeing our patients, type up a note and start calling people to get collateral information.  The residents would arrive around 8am and then we would round with the Attending physician at 9am.  All and all I really only saw the Attending physician for 30 minutes a day on this team.  Pretty much the Attending did all the interviews during rounds.

This team also required us to read journal articles each week and to present them to the attending and other medical student.  Actually this wasn’t a bad thing as it did help in the learning process.

After two weeks on that team I was moved over to the team dealing with personality disorders, detox and the such.

I think I actually liked this team better.  Again, I worked with one resident and a medical student on this team.  The hours were a little easier was we didn’t have to arrive until 8am and we didn’t round until noon.  The intersting thing about this team was that the attending physician was really cool and laid back.  During rounds he had us interview our own patients in front of him.  If he had questions that he thought we forgot to ask he would chime in, but most the time he just sat back and would give feedback to us after the patient had left the room.

I think this was a great learning experience.  I really learned what to ask and how to respond to patients when they put you on the spot or some type of conflict arises.  Again, a large part of this team was getting collateral and sitting in on family meetings.  So lots of calling family members and talking to patients outpatient doctors.

All and all this was a fun rotation.  I think the residents are some of the easiest people to work with, at least where I was.  They were more than willing to help in anyway and were really willing to help teach things.

The only problem I ran into was with one of the attendings.  It seems that he forgot I was a PA student and kept comparing me to a medical student.  Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, but he has a little bit of a grading problem.

I was told early on that this attending did not give medical students high grades.  I was told me thought a “C” was good or average for a medical student and unless the student did something really really great then they would get a C.  I was also told that he usually took it easier on PA student and gave them a higher grade, usually a mid to high B.  He did this because he said he expected the medical students to know more then PA students.

Well, my grade reflected the fact that he thought I was a Medical students as I was given an AVERAGE grade.

Lucky for me, I talked to the other attending and he gave me a much higher grade.  So the two averaged out to be an OK grade.

Now, you may ask why I didn’t go and talk to the first attending who gave me the AVERAGE grade.

Well, he got a new job in Texas and filled out my grade on the afternoon that the left.  So when I actually saw the grade, he was already on a flight to Texas.
Fair?  I don’t think so, but it all worked out.

Now for books that were good…

1) Psychiatry Blueprints- this ended up being the only real book that I used and it was a good one!

Have you done a Psych rotation?  When Where?

Pediatrics Rotation

Filed Under (Rotations) by Dave on 07-03-2010

So I actually have some free time…so I thought I would update the site with a few post about my past few rotations.

So at the beginning of this year, 2010, I did my Pediatric rotation with Dr. Renew of Augusta Georgia.

I have to admit that I was really unsure about my Pediatrics rotation.  This being so because I was not sure how well I would be around kids.  See, i’m an only child so dealing with small children is something new for me.

Little did I know that I would end up liking the rotation as much as I did.  And i’m sure a lot of that has to do with having such a great Doctor to work with.

One of the first things that I noticed was that the children did not cry nearly as much as I had anticipated.  Actually the Doctor pointed out how none of her patients were crying or misbehaving while I was in the room.  Be it a tall man figure in the room or whatever…it was nice to have them not cry and to be calm.

If I remember right, one parent noticed how well her child was being and stated to me “well you know children can sense how kind of a person or how caring a person you are and they respond according.” I think that may actually be quite true.

No on to the material of the rotation.

Pediatrics is like another world.  I really had to remember how to use all of my physical exam skills, especially auscultation.  I really got a good idea of how to listen for pneumonia and different heart murmurs.

I will agree that you do get your runny noses and common child injuries a lot, but you also get cool things every once in a while.

All and all Pediatrics was quite fun and I really enjoyed it.

I am actually thinking about looking for a pediatric surgery job.  So if you know anyone in Savannah GA looking for a new PA let me know!

I want to end by talking about which text books were the best for this rotation, as I just took the end of rotation test this past week.

1) Pediatrics Blueprints- this book was just great.  Had everything in an easy to read format and was straight to the point.

2)Pediatric Lange- Ok, this book is huge and has way too much Info, but it did come in handy when I saw something during the rotation and wanted to read more about it.  It also had the information that was asked of me, not really pimped, during my rotation

Have you done your Pediatrics rotation?

When? Where?  How was it? What books helped you?

Google Wave Invitations

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 31-12-2009

I know this is way off topic from normal post, but seeing as I am on Christmas break, I have been playing with tons of new internet stuff.

I recently started using Google Wave and have really enjoyed it!  Its an awesome way to chat and talk with friends.

The only problem is that it is by invitation only at this moment.

And that is where I come in for you guys.

I really don’t have anyone to give my invitations away to, so i’m offering them up to all the visitors to this site.

So leave a comment or use the contact link at the top of the page and request an invitation.

If you don’t know what Google Invitation is check out the video below!

Epocrates for Iphone or Ipod Touch

Filed Under (General Talk) by Dave on 17-12-2009

I have had a few fellow classmates and e-mails from visitors asking what programs I recommend for the Iphone or Ipod touch for PAs or medical students.

I think the one program I can say I have used the most is Epocrates.  I have only used the Free version, but it has been great for me.

Being able to pull up drugs quickly and find all the information I need about them is great.  There have even been a time or two when a doctor didn’t know something about a drug so he/she asked me to look it up on my Iphone while we were in the room with a patient.

From what I can tell some doctors are embracing the idea of Iphones and the such and think they are a great addition when treating patients.

Anyway, Epocrates is a must have for all PA and medical students on rotations.

I have not used the paid version such as Epocrates Essentials, but I hear that it is well worth the money.

I have a 50% CODE for Epocrates Essentials that you can find at the end of the post.  As far as I know it still works, if not I can try and get another one for you guys.

Look for more post on programs that I use and find helpful during my rotations!

Epocrates Essentials 50% code: ACEP94404STU