Up to this point, Amy Doering ‘20PA, had been practicing doing physical exams on her fellow students. But the first time she had the chance to do an exam on a four-month-old boy, she learned something pretty quickly: He didn’t much like her looking in his ears.
“It’s definitely different to look into the ears of a four-month-old because they’re so much smaller. He did not like that. I understand his complaints,” said Doering.
The University’s Physician Assistant (PA) students participate annually in a hands-on pediatric workshop
as an experiential learning component of the program’s physical diagnosis course. Pediatric patients, ranging from three months to fourteen years of age, served as the subjects for the exams. Their parents helped facilitate at each of the practice stations.
“This is a component of our physical diagnosis course where the students learn physical exam techniques. So before they go out to their clinical year, we put on a workshop to expose them to the pediatric population,” said Adam Moore, ATC, MHS, PA-C, assistant professor in the PA program.
Peeking into the ears is indeed one of the most challenging parts of doing a physical exam on children for the PA students.
“The biggest fear some of our students have is trying to look into the ears of a patient, especially a baby,” said Moore. “They’re smaller and squirmy. But the students do feel more confident after doing the workshop. They get a little exposure using some of the bracing techniques that we’ve taught them and to not hurt the patient when they look into their ears.”
In addition to conducting the exam, students assess developmental milestones in the children, practice history-taking skills and provide anticipatory guidance counseling.
“Next year we’re going to be doing a pediatrics rotation and it will helpful going into that knowing how to approach a pediatric patient,” said Doering. “It’s very different on how you would approach an adult. This helps us be ready and more prepared for that rotation.”
From the looks of it, Neil Woltjen ‘20PA, is prepared for his pediatrics rotation. By the time he had completed his part of the workshop; a baby girl had snuggled into his arms and fallen asleep.
“The first time we go to our pediatric rotation, just having done this before gives the parents some confidence that we know what we’re doing,” he said.