Janine Maloney (first year PA student) goes through her experience working in an urgent care clinic during her longitudinal placement.
What LP did you do?
I did an LP at an Urgent Care Clinic in my hometown.
How did you go about contacting and arranging the LP?
I contacted my uncle, who works as a physician, to see if he could recommend anywhere to do an LP. He got me in touch with the clinic and we went from there!
What were the two main things you learned from the LP?
1. I learned what tools are used to diagnose urinary tract infections. One day, it seemed as though every second patient was presenting with urinary symptoms - I had some good practice reading urine dipsticks and analyzing the different components of urine.
2. I learned different ways of calming crying, sick children long enough to have a look in their ears with an otoscope. Some were okay just sitting on their parent’s lap, while others were more content with the idea of holding a tongue depressor with a smiley face drawn on it. This taught me that as a PA, not only will I need to be knowledgeable, but creative as well!
What do you wish you had known beforehand to help you in your LP?
I wish I had been more familiar with the names of some common medications. It was a bit daunting when a patient would pull out their list of medications, and I had to try to determine which ones were relevant when I hardly recognized any of them. I have since realized that this is something that is going to take time, and the more clinical experience I get, the more comfortable I am beginning to feel.
How has this experience helped you clinically, in class and/or in career decision-making?
I find I continue to draw on this experience as new patient cases come up in class. Because the patients I saw at this placement were so diverse, many of the problems I encountered were ones I had not yet learned about in class. Now, when similar cases come up in class, I find I am better able to understand them after having some exposure to them at my LP.
Share your most memorable experience from the LP!
On the second day of my LP, a patient came in with a large laceration that required suturing. Having never sutured before, my preceptor and I agreed that it would be best if I administered the local anesthetic to the wound, and then watched as he did the suturing. About ¼ of the way through the job (with the patient’s consent, of course!), he handed me the needle and forceps and talked me through the remaining sutures. I was definitely nervous at the start, but as the wound came to a close I felt like I was actually getting the hang of it! Having that experience has given me more confidence in new situations, and made me even more excited for clerkship.