Resources

Ultimate Physician Assistant Gift Guide - 2018

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Wondering what to get for all of the PAs in your life? Whether Pre-PA, current students, or practicing PAs, we’ve got you covered with this 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. We’ve broken it down by category and you’ll find more practical options to go with some of the more fun choices. Feel free to pass this guide along to your family and friends to give them some hints about what’s on your shopping list. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means we get a small percentage if you make a purchase as no extra cost to you. This list is just in time for Black Friday so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for deals!

To Wear

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Looking professional is a staple as a physician assistant! Medelita is my go-to brand for medical wear in clinic. A gift card will provide a choice between the various scrubs, white coats, or scrub jackets, but I’ll share some of my favorites.

Medelita offers free shipping, the option of embroidery, a 1-year warranty, and at-home try-on. What more could you ask for? I recommend any of the scrubs, and my favorite white coats are the Ellody or the Rebecca. If you’ve never bought anything from Medelita, you can set up a new account and get $20 off your first purchase over $70. Use the code PAPLATFORM4 for a 20% discount.

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If you’re looking for something more casual, check out Medthusiast for the cutest and comfiest T-shirts and sweatshirts. Both Medelita and Medthusiast are companies that were created by PAs, which makes them even cooler!

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To Read

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For the Pre-PA Student - To help future PA students reach their goals, there are some must have resources out there to make the process much easier. The Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs provides information about all of the current PA programs. This is a huge time saver because it can be difficult to track down that info. After applying, the interview is the next step, so the Physician Assistant School Interview Guide is a great present for anyone in the application process.

For the current or soon-to-be PA Student - There were 2 books that were extremely helpful to me while I was in PA school - the “green” book and Lange Q&A. I used these the entire time and particularly when studying for boards. I’ve also heard great things about PANCE Prep Pearls.

For anyone and everyone - Dr. Atul Gawande is my favorite non-fiction/medical author. His books should be mandatory reading for anyone in medicine. Better and Complications would be welcome stocking stuffers for any PA!

For School

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While PA school is thankfully a somewhat distant memory for me, there are a few things I couldn’t have survived without.

A great computer. If you really love your PA student (or soon-to-be student), make sure they have a functioning laptop. I’ve heard great things about the iPad Pro and Notability for taking notes, so that’s a good option too. I started school with a MacBook Pro and ended with a Microsoft Surface. I wish I had my Surface at the beginning of my program so I could have taken notes directly on our never ending PowerPoints. I’m back to a MacBook now, but the Surface was great for studying for boards.

A functioning printer. Even though everything is online these days, I’m still a pen and paper type of person at times. I like to write things out and take notes by hand, particularly for last minute studying before a test. I have the HP Envy, and it’s wireless, and does the job.

A water bottle. I’m the first to admit I’m the worst at staying hydrated. At work I use one of the large Tervis tumblers to keep my drinks cold or a good Yeti cup. I love this water bottle that helps to remind you to drink frequently by glowing to help increase water intake.

Amazon Prime. Having 2-day shipping was a lifesaver during PA school and clinical year. When my feet and back were so sore during my surgery rotation, I was able to get some compression socks and better shoes on the way ASAP because by the time I got off work nothing was open and I just wanted to sleep.

For Clinic

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If you’re in the market for a new stethoscope, and want one that functions excellently and looks sharp, check out the ERKA stethoscopes from Medelita. I don’t use a stethoscope frequently in dermatology, but my husband has claimed by ERKA as his own and uses it daily at the hospital. There are plenty of color options, and the tubing holds up nicely even with frequent use.

For a coffee drinker, Medthusiast has amazing ceramic coffee mugs with gorgeous artwork on them. These mugs will be the envy of everyone else in the office!

For CME

While I wouldn’t recommend booking a full CME trip for someone else, travel essentials are always a great gift. After going to a few conferences this year, I’ve realized I don’t have great luggage or carry-ons, so those are at the top of my list this Christmas.

Lecture halls at conferences are always freezing for some reason. While I dress business casual and professional when I go to CME events, I’ve been carrying my Medelita Ionic scrub jacket with me to keep me warm. It’s a great weight and still looks professional, so I’ll just leave it at my seat in between sessions. Mine is embroidered so I don’t worry about it going missing. These are available for men and women, and they fit true to size. This is also my husband’s favorite jacket to wear at the hospital, even more than his white coat. (And don’t tell, but even all of the non-medical people in my family are getting these jackets this year!)

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At conference, I always take a good size purse or bookbag to lectures, and I have my trusty Lilly Pulitzer notebook and a ton of pens. You could create a little conference survival kit and that would be an awesome present. Don’t forget the candy and snacks!

For Fun

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Makeup and skincare are always a nice present because who doesn’t love a little pampering. Put together a basket with some bath bombs, sunscreen, and skincare kit for someone who needs to relax a little bit. I’m the first to admit that I’m a product junkie, but most recently, I’ve been using the FRÉ Skincare line. Being a dermatology PA, I’m very picky about products, but these are easy to use, gentle, and leave my skin feeling fresh. The choices aren’t overwhelming and I love that I only have to leave the Detox mask on for a few minutes. You can use the code SAVANNA1 for 15% off, and make sure you’re following me on social media for extra deals (and there’s a really good one coming for Black Friday!)

For more of my recommendations and favorites, check out my Amazon list.

Interview with Jorge Muniz, PA-C, Creator of Medcomic

I'm really excited to share an interview with the extremely talented PA, Jorge Muniz.  While working as a PA, he has found the time to create a really cool and fun study tool!  Many of us are visual learners, and if you have trouble remembering the essential pearls, then you need this book!  There are a few days left in his Kickstarter campaign, so you still have a chance to be one of the first to jump on board.  

What is your name?

Jorge Muniz

How long have you been a PA?

In 2013, I graduated from the Nova Southeastern University's PA program located in Orlando, Florida. Two weeks after graduating, a large group of us took the PANCE. I’m proud to say we all passed. Immediately afterwards, I began practicing as a PA in the hospital as I had secured a position in orthopedic surgery during my clinical rotations.

What inspired you to create Medcomic?

I've loved cartoons since I was a little kid. As a PA student, I realized that being in the medical field gave me the opportunity to channel my creative energy while helping my classmates study for exams.

My artwork has been influenced by the cartoons I watched as a child, which relied heavily on physical humor and facial expressions. I believe the animation seen on television today has changed a lot from cartoons like Looney Tunes that were produced in the 1940s and 1950s. I remember watching many of those reruns. Another inspiration and influence on my art has been the work of Mike Krahulik. He’s the graphic artist behind the popular video game webcomic Penny Arcade.

What do you hope to accomplish with Medcomic?

Medcomic’s mission is to make studying medicine fun and entertaining. Part of my vision for Medcomic is to expand the concept so that it becomes more comprehensive. There are plans to introduce new features and apps in the future. The first book is weeks shy of being released and there are countless ideas and possibilities to add more volumes to the Medcomic library.

What is your favorite comic that you've created?

How long does it take you to create a single comic?

One comic takes approximately 12 hours to produce. Part of that time is dedicated to reviewing the topic and gathering information that’s relevant for students to know for exam purposes. Sketching the concept and producing a comic takes time and patience. There have been instances where I’ll throw away an idea midway of completion if I feel it isn’t going to result in something that meets my standards. I always try to think, “ If I were a student, would I find this illustration useful?”  There’s a value of quality over quantity.

How do you find time to do something like create a comic book while practicing as a PA? 

I’ve produced most of my artwork on my days off by waking up early and working on an illustration all day. It’s a bit of a sacrifice, but it’s gratifying that I continue to help many students with the cartoons I’ve been able to produce thus far.

How can we find out more information about Medcomic and help to spread the word?

For more information, visit Medcomic.com.  At the time of this writing, a Kickstarter campaign has been launched to help publish the first Medcomic book. This book will propel Medcomic into academic circles and make an impact on how traditional medicine is taught. It will also help establish a foundation for additional projects that I’m excited to share more details about in the future.

I truly appreciate everyone’s support to make the Medcomic book a reality. You can contribute by pledging or by sharing the campaign with friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter. Please visit Medcomic's Kickstarter page to support this project! Thanks.

Update! Medcomic's kickstarter was successful, and you can now purchase it on Amazon. (Affiliate link)


Physician Assistant Blogs

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While there isn't a ton of information out there in the blog world, and many of them do not stay recent, if you look hard you can find some good posts.  Here is a list of the blogs I've been able to find, so let me know if you run a site or know of any others!

I'm A PA - A site from the AAPA, and their blog does update a few times a month, and you could write for them if you have an interesting perspective.

Jay the PA -  A firsthand look at what it takes to become a PA from the Pre-PA stage to being accepted and starting school!  

With Ashley Kay - Ashley is a current PA student sharing her journey through school.  She has beautiful photography on her site as well! 

White Coat Clutter - Stephanie is a PA who is transitioning to dermatology and shares a ton of tips for Pre-PA students and current PA students. 

Life as a PA - Andrea is an amazing Pediatric ICU PA who is very open about sharing her lifestyle and giving back to the PA profession.  Make sure to follow her on Snapchat too! 

PA Student Essentials - A site run by PA students and the SAAPA

Meghan in Medicine - Meghan is a soon-to-be PA student who is doing an amazing job showing the details of how she's accomplishing her goals.  

The PA Life - Jourdyn is a current PA student at UW-Madison blogging about her time while in PA school.  

Reddit Pre-PA - Not exactly a blog, but more like a forum to ask questions to an active community and look up information that others have asked about in the past. 

PA Boards - This is a great resource with so many options - podcasts, blog posts, PANCE review, YouTube videos, and even an app!  

Musings - The JAAPA blog.  This is a great resource to stay up to date with issues facing PAs.

ADVANCE for NPs & PAs - They have a few different blogs, including one for students and one for new grads.   

Lauren Does Life - A new blog with an awesome looking site.  Lauren has just started her clinical year of PA school and it looks like there are some great posts coming in the future!  

Lindsey's PA Blog - Lindsey is currently a PA student at Albany College and has been writing periodically about her experiences there.  

Hay the PA - Hayley is a PA student at University of Kentucky and she has a beautiful site where she shares tips for both PA school and living a healthy lifestyle. 

PAs RISE - A resource for pre-PAs, PA students, and physician assistants where they have access to interesting reads, mentorship, and FOAMed (free open access medical education).  This site encourages the PA community to contribute their thoughts, expertise, and opinions while shining a spotlight on the advances PAs and students are making within the community.  

The Organized Undergrad - Follow Emily's progress through undergrad as she works towards a profession in the medical field, and tries to make decisions between pursuing PA or MD.  

Medicine & Manicures - A great combination of PA school and fashion.  Kristina just graduated from Campbell University's PA program, and she will be a derm PA as well!  (Best choice ever.)

PA Fanatic - Brittany is transitioning from a Pre-PA to PA-S, and sharing all of her tips and advice along the way. 

Physician Assistant Blog - A blog with unique posts that are a little different from the typical things other sites write about.  The authors also wrote the PANCE/PANRE Study Guide, which is a resource to use during school and when studying for boards.  

AP the PA - A new blog from Aashna, a student who is about to start PA school.  Great information so far!  

Pre-physician assistant blog - A bunch of interviews with various students and PAs.  Especially helpful if you're interested in schools in Texas.  

New PA-C Here - Not updated recently, but she posted a good bit during school about her experiences 

Trust Me, I'm a PA Student - A well-researched blog from a current student at UTSW

The White Coat Investor - The best blog for financial advice if you're working in medicine. Not specific to PAs, but definitely helps everything to be slightly less confusing and provides great resources.  

Physician Assistant, Finally There - Not updated recently, but a lot of information from school and resources as well.

Women in Surgery - This is not specific to PAs, but seeing as there are plenty of women PAs and PAs doing surgery, it's a great reference.

Food, Fitness, & Family - Although the title may not seem to fit, this is a blog of a current PA student and how she survives.  And shes's a mom!

PA-C Hustle - A PA and mother, and how she balances both jobs. 

PA Journey - Follow along with a PA student on the journey to becoming a PA.  

xohollyd - Holly is currently in her didactic year of PA school and provides updates on her blog so you can see what it's like to go through PA school. 

Stethoscope and Sparkle - Follow Erin through her time in PA school, and look for all of the advice she has for Pre-PA students 

Apple A Day PA - Demi is currently in her clinical year at Florida International University in Miami, and she blogs about her experiences and offers advice for clinicals. 

White Coat Dreaming - Alex is in her 3rd year of PA school and on the tail end of clinicals.  She has some great advice from fellow students and throws a personal touch into her posts too. 

Lynzy and Co - Definitely more of a lifestyle blog, but Lynzy is a mom, but also a part-time PA.  She does a great job showing how she balances life. 

The PA Pursuit - Chelsea is a PA student who has beautiful pics on her site and her Instagram as she offers advice to hopeful PA students. 

White Coat Whitney - Whitney is a second year PA student sharing advice about PA school and for Pre-PA students. 

PA-Cents - A new kid on the block that is discussing all things having to do with the financial side of PA school and being a PA. If you have any questions about money stuff specifically for PAs, make sure to check it out!


Book Review: Still Alice

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I finished Still Alice by Lisa Genova yesterday, and it surprisingly didn't turn out to be quite as sad as I had expected!

The premise of this book is a psychology professor at Harvard is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and it goes through her journey from pre-diagnosis, diagnosis, and progression of the disease, as well as her family's reactions.  As an intelligent woman, Alice has a very difficult time with coming to terms with her disease.  This book paints a very accurate picture of how Alzheimer's may affect both a patient and the patient's family.

Alice starts by normally living her life and will just occasionally have some lapses in memory, but it's not until she gets lost on a route she runs daily that she realizes something is wrong.  Alzheimer's starts with the small things and slowly progresses to be a debilitating disease.  This book gave me much more empathy and understanding as to why Alzheimer's patients experience some of the symptoms they do.  Distrust was a big one, and I love the way this book showed how that can happen.  The brain is so powerful that it's almost scary.

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When first finding out about the possible diagnosis, Alice's husband says, "I think you jumped the going to see a neurologist.  He looks at your set of symptoms and sees Alzheimer's, but that's what he's trained to see, it doesn't mean he's right."  This stood out to me because I think this is how a lot of patients feel when they go to the doctor, so it's our job to instill trust in our patients so they feel that we are treating them as individuals, and not just a disease.

As a PA student,  Still Alice gives a great view of patient-doctor relations and multiple Mini Mental Status Exams (MMSE).  These are simple tests that can be done to judge a patient's cognitive function, and the decline is seen very clearly in this book.  It also discussed treatments that are being used currently for Alzheimer's. Alice describes it this way - "Alzheimer's disease was an entirely different kind of beast.  There were no weapons that could slay it.  Taking Aricept and Namenda felt like aiming a couple of leaky squirt guns in the face of a blazing fire."

This book gave me hope that the research being done presently will result in a cure and better medications for Alzheimer's, and hopefully sooner rather than later.  This article shows that they have found changes of Alzheimer's occur much sooner than symptoms show up, so treatment could be starting much sooner as well.  In Alice's case, if treatment had begun earlier, it could have potentially slowed down the disease process.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone in the medical field or interested in medicine, or anyone who wants a better understanding of what exactly Alzheimer's entails.  A movie was recently made from this book as well!


Books for Medical People

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Better / Complications

If you're looking for some recreational reading with a medical twist, here are some options that I highly recommend.  These are 2 books that I read before starting PA school, and I think anyone interested or involved in the medical field should read these books.  They are written by Dr. Atul Gawande.  Gawande is a surgeon so he can definitely relate, and on top of that, he's an incredibly skilled writer.  Easy to read, and makes you think.  Both Better and Complications address issues facing the medical field and Dr. Gawande's opinion on them.  I don't necessarily agree with all of his opinions, but they have helped me to form my own.

                 

Still Alice / Being Mortal / The House of God

And if you have some extra time on your hands, here are some other books that I'm reading or are on my list!  I'm going to do some more detailed book reviews in the future, but comment below with any books that you recommend!