LPM: A Student’s Perspective- Exams

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“I wanted to get everything right, despite my nerves sometimes getting the best of me. What I hadn’t realized was that the whole year of practice had prepared me well.”

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Editor’s Note:

This is a continuation of a new series with our newest associate editor, Shayla Johnson, who is currently enrolled in a perfusion program.  I am impressed that as a perfusion student she has the initiative to share her thoughts and impressions with us regarding the process of learning the art of perfusion technology from her own unique perspective:

“I am a first year perfusion student.I follow your facebook and website to stay updated on perfusion news from all around the world, and I love it. I saw the posting about needing bloggers and wanted to find out if you were interested in a student blogger. Either way, thank you for the work put into the website, it was valuable as I prepared to apply for my program as well as throughout it.

Thank you.”

Shayla Johnson

The name of the series will be as above- LPM: A Student’s Perspective.  There is a slight play on the acronym as the L stands for Learning as opposed to a metric for Q.

As we all know- regardless of experience level- we all learn minute by minute.

Enjoy :)

Frank

Click here to view the entire LPM series

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Shayla Johnson

Shayla Johnson, Associate Editor

 

Exams

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After a year of didactic learning, which somehow flew by, the dates for our final exams crept up quickly. One of the most stressful parts of school is examinations, particularly the comprehensive ones that are necessary prior to leaving for rotations. In my program, we first had our practical exam which was surprisingly not as bad as I had assumed it would be. Having a timer on setting up the pump and priming had initially caused panic to set in. What if I couldn’t do it in time? What if I forgot something?

The hardest thing about all practical exams is that there is no rigid structure, no answer right in front of you, and sometimes you need to trouble shoot on the spot – sounds a lot like perfusion in general! In theory, it sounded like the most terrifying exam of my life. I wanted to get everything right, despite my nerves sometimes getting the best of me. What I hadn’t realized was that the whole year of practice had prepared me well. The extra time I thought I’d needed in the lab was helpful, but it was nothing compared to the total number of times I’d set up the pump before. I’d heard the advice from other’s who had gone through this before but I have to say they were right about being more prepared than I’d ever realized.

Our next exam was a comprehensive exam on everything we’d ever covered. One thing about graduate school, particularly perfusion, is that everything is important. Unlike in undergrad, where you learned material for a test and that was it, you can’t forget the things you learn during the didactic year. I knew going into my last quarter that I’d need to make sure to review material that had been covered nearly a year ago, and reviewing of some topics was surprisingly easily, while other topics remained more of a challenge (acid-base of course!).

While taking a comprehensive exam over everything was hard, it was also a good way to ensure we’d retained the information covered during our first year of school. I hope that it serves as a good practice for when we take the board exams since the same expectation will exist. Now that I’ve made it through on the other side of didactic work, I’m able to see that I knew much more and had learned more than I’d ever thought I would. Exams week is hard, it is nerve-wracking, and at times sleep-less, but you can make it through and feel even more confident that you are ready to tackle the next big challenge; clinical rotations.

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Letters From Ecuador: The Arrival [2]

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(Click Image to View Entire Ecuador Series)

Editor’s Note:

I want to thank Margaret R. Harrington, who was a perfusion student close to graduation, and volunteered her time to work with The International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF) and Brian Forsberg, MPH, CCP, on a pediatric mission to Ecuador.  The following is her narrative and insight- as well as her photography of the events and the great story that transpired.

Ms. Harrington is now a CCP and working as a perfusionist. 

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The Arrival…

Cold, heavy rain blanketed the empty Iowa streets

as I left my apartment on the morning of December 3rd. Though it was 4:00 A.M., the quiet darkness of the world that greeted me seemed almost strange and unexpected, as I was barely able to contain my overwhelming excitement.

I was on my way to Ecuador, and already more than certain that the upcoming two weeks would prove to be amazing. And I was not to be disappointed.

Several months earlier I had won a scholarship sponsored by AmSECT and Perfusion Without Borders to attend a cardiac surgery mission trip in order to shadow an experienced perfusionist. After much deliberation, I decided upon Guayaquil, Ecuador as my destination of choice, hoping that perhaps my Spanish minor might be of help.

I would be part of a medical team representing the International Children’s Heart Foundation, an organization that has been working since 1994 to diagnose and treat children with congenital heart disease worldwide. Not only does ICHF bring to their destinations the healthcare professionals and the technology necessary to perform these urgently-needed operations, but they also thoroughly and skillfully train local medical personnel, so that over time these developing areas are able to sustain fully-functioning facilities on their own.

The organization was founded by Dr. William M. Novick, a renowned and remarkably gifted pediatric cardiac surgeon, whose passion and dedication for this cause has currently resulted in over 5,000 operations worldwide for children in need. Dr. Novick operated with our team during the first week of our mission, and the opportunity to work as part of his team was truly a privilege.

I could say the same for all of our team members. As I met each of them and discovered each one’s diverse backgrounds and experience, it became clear that we comprised a unique group.

It was obvious that everyone was not only talented, hard-working and serious about their work, but also extremely committed to the ICHF endeavor of helping children in need. Our team members were mostly from the U.S., but we also had volunteers from Chile and Belarus.

Click Here to Continue …


A Locum’s ScrapBook: Decompressing

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US 2015

Our initials: Carved into the tower exactly 11 years ago when we first met…

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Editor’s Note:

I’m doing some perfusion traveling as I am taking my show on the road.  As such, every once in awhile I will be dropping a few notes and pictures of places visited, and observations made.  In a sense, the beginning of a scrap book on Open Heart Surgery in America (and other places if possible).

37 hospitals and counting (places I have put someone on CPB).

Enjoy :)

Frank

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To view the entire series- click here: A Locum’s ScrapBook.

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A Locum’s ScrapBook:  Ya Gotta Decompress

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I try to cover most perspectives as a locums- in terms of how it translates clinically to perfusion and heart surgery.  I also try to engage the reader as to some of the more subtle things that affect us as perfusionists, that may or may not come into play during our performance in the cardiac arena.  What it boils down to is this:  If it affects you, the perfusionist, it will eventually impact your practice and outlook (which is neither a good or a bad thing- just something to be aware of…)

We are called Locums, Travelers, Nomads, etc, with of course, the tag of perfusionist behind all of that.  A lot of people think what we do is either crazy, extremely stressful, or the full circle rush that is the sought-after-treat for adrenaline junkies.

I have probably fit all of the above conceptions at one point or another, but have found that this line of work is truly demanding yet utterly rewarding for a number of reasons.  The demands are simply stated that unless you are single- you are removed from your family.  That is probably the toughest proposition in front of a locums.

Being away from your family hurts on a number of levels, but is part of the game, so you make adjustments, use new media more extensively (FB, FaceTime, Skype).  Daily contact softens the blow, and depending on the type of assignments you have- a week isn’t bad, two weeks is bearable, three weeks and you find yourself splurging, and beyond four it becomes a waiting game to get back home.  Those are the moments when you almost fast-forward your life past all the commercials- to the next visit home.

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The Frogs in the Pool !

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So when you do make it home, between assignments- you have to make it count, stay off the grid, and spend time with your family.  It is after all the primary reason you are traveling to begin with- to take care of them, and as well, to not forget to take care of yourself.

I just finished enjoying the BEST month of my life :)

And tomorrow I will be looking forward to doing some of this…

MS

Gotta Love it … :)

Frank

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