As you are going through your Physician Assistant program you get inundated with this huge amount of info. Every minute of every class is jam-packed with information that you will be expected to know when you graduate. Not just so you can pass a certification exam, but so you don’t kill somebody when you finally start working as a full-fledged Physician Assistant. At some point in time when all this knowledge is being packed into that head of yours, you are going to wonder; “Will I remember all this? Will it all stick?” Hell, you might even be so brazen to ask your professors those very same questions. (I did.) I asked my professors, fellow students, preceptors, my wide, the school librarian, my parents, and anybody else I thought might give me some glimmer of hope that all this stuff I was learning was not just flying out as fast as it was being flown in. As it turns out the answer I received from everyone was essentially the same. “Trust yourself, when the time comes the information you need will be there for you.” I swear it felt like I was asking Master Yoda about this. I mean what is this “trust yourself” crap. C’mon people, I turned to you for advice about a very serious concern I have over my ability to consume, digest, process, and then regurgitate enormous amounts of information that will become essential to my ability to keep someone alive and you give me this sh!+ about “Trust yourself, it will be there for you”. What kind of half a$$ answer is that?
Well, as it turns out, it is the right kind of half a$$ answer. These people weren’t just feeding me some Freudian BS to make me feel better. They were actually right, for the most part anyway. As you get out in the real world and start working on your own, it’s amazing how things you spent time studied just come out when you need it. I am always a little surprised when I recall some arcane bit of knowledge about a problem or drug just when I need it. (Proof that I am not as thick headed as some of my high school teachers asserted. Stuff does stick in there. Kiss my A$$ Mrs. Glaze.) Sorry about that, got carried away.
As I was saying, the folks that I was grilling about my questionable memory prowess were only partially right. The information you need to perform well as a Physician Assistant is tucked away all nice and neat in your head, and it will be retrievable most of the time when you need it. Yes, I said most of the time. I am sorry to be the one to break this to you, but at some time in your career you are going to either not remember something that you damn well know you should be remembering or just not know what the hell is going on with a patient. It happens, believe me; it happens. The question is, how are you going to deal with it? You are sitting in the room with a patient working up some old lady’s sore throat and she breaks out with “How does my Sjogren’s syndrome affect the enamel of my teeth when I drink too much orange Kool-Aid and the temperature is below 72 °F during a full moon after swimming all day in public pool?”
WTF!!! HOLY SH!+, IS THIS PATIENT F’N SERIOUS?
Answer; yes, they are serious. So what do you do? How do you deal with this patient’s question? Well, if you are really good you will tell them that the enamel on the teeth will only be affected by Sjogren’s when drinking grape Kool-Aid and the temperature is above 72 °F during a half moon and swimming in a private pool. (OK, I made that up). The point is that this patient is expecting an answer to the question and you are not going to have a clue how to give them one. How to deal with the scenario of “not knowing” will not be covered in school. Why should it, your school is extremely confident they taught you everything there is to know about being a Physician Assistant. (FAT CHANCE OF THAT!)