A Sensitive Topic

I'm engulfed by midterms, presentations, quizzes, and a business plan this week! Now, throw in an evening with detailed and proper instructions on female and male sensitive exams. These are the prostate and rectal exams for males and the gynecological exams for females. No problem right? We've performed these exams a number of times on the dummies in lab. We have the procedure down pat and know EXACTLY what we are doing. Well, I'll just put things this way: The dummies in lab don't talk back to tell you how to perform the exam or that what you are doing is either uncomfortable, medically sound or, if you are really off-track from being nervous, creepy feeling!

Back to the beginning of the story: Part of the Advanced Clinical Encounters class is to show competency for gender specific sensitive exams by performing the exam on a human being. We don't perform the exams on each other or on volunteers. We have professional instructor models visit our school whose job is to travel between medical schools to instruct students, as the exam is performed. The environment during the exams is very relaxed and upbeat. We have two instructors in the examination room. One instructor is the model and the other is the lecturer or lab instructor.

We are verbally walked through each step of the exam process. As we cover a structure on the body, we are walked through the examination procedure for that structure, what to expect and what normal vs. abnormal findings will look or feel like. Once that section is explained, each student is expected to complete the entire exam for that procedure, including communication with the patient during the examination. We are instructed on key words to use such as "everything appears normal and healthy" as opposed to "everything looks good/great'," as that phrasing can leave some interpretation in meaning to some patients. 

The instructors use plenty of humor and laughs to help the students relax and realize that we are present to learn about the human body and all of it structures, functions and ailments. These exams are provided so that we can learn on a human being. The instructors are gracious enough and comfortable enough to take a group of nervous students and help them concentrate on performing an exam that could help to save a person's life one day. 

Walking into the exam was a bit nerve wracking, especially as a male walking into a female sensitive exam lab scenario. Yet by the time my group had finished the lab session, I was in amazement at the resiliency, structure, form, and function of structures that I had seen in anatomy lab many times in an inert framework. To see these structures in a clinical setting, performing as they do on a live human being was miraculous to me. 

Gathering Update 

All teams who are working on the Gathering are in high gear as we near the weekend of November 9-11!  We have all the speakers confirmed with topics that I hope to share prior to the Gathering weekend. The Opening Ceremony Team is hard at work rehearsing for the big day.

2012-10-23_gather
The drummers working outside a couple of weeks ago.
(L-R) Katie, Nakiesha, Wendy, Lauren and Alaina

I'm very proud of everyone who is working hard to make the Gathering a huge success. Our little school is going to shine very brightly because of the students and faculty who make it special!

I am also very grateful this week for the instructors who visit our school and choose to share of themselves for others to learn and perhaps catch a problem early that will save a life someday.