When Mind is Not Over Matter – Increasing Mental Illness Awareness

 

Not every disability is visible, not every illness can be diagnosed with labs and diagnostic test.Some illnesses require the skill of listening and understanding behavior . Psychiatry is the field in which you take care of the body and mind.

The Stigma

The stigma behind mental illness is something that affects us worldwide. Imagine if patients got blamed for having cancer or heart failure? Mental illness is real and it affects  a lot of individuals.  We have society thinking that mental illness is something  that’s  “ all in your head.” That’s the stigma, we live in a world where if you are in a cast everyone will rush over to sign it , but if you would tell people your bipolar , suffering from depression they look at you like you’re an outcast.  Like if our brain isn’t an organ that can suffer from neurotransmitter malfunction.

I’m a second year physician Assistant Student at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg , Texas. I’m in my clinical year, and I began my rotations with Psychiatry. I had the pleasure to rotate with Dr. Igoa at Doctors Hospital At Renaissance Behavioral Center. This rotation opened my eyes and made me fall in love with the field . Whether an illness affects your heart, muscles, bones or brain it’s an illness and it’s very real.  I remember my first day in the rotation rounding in Inpatient hospital . I was exposed to depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, addiction etc. At that moment it hit me , There’s people that I probably pass everyday in the hallway, street, grocery store who are suffering from a mental illness .

Interviewing my first patient I had my “ AHA moment” , and any medical provider can tell you these moments are precious.  My first patient was suffering from withdrawals, the patient was coming in to get help.  It hit me , here’s this patient going through physical and mental symptoms , the courage he must have had to come in and say “ Hey I can’t do this alone.”  This patient told me he was homeless, that he had children, why his addiction began and his story went on and on.  At that moment I realized the gift we have as providers.  This man didn’t even know me  but he trusted me.  I had my white coat on and made sure to tell him Dr. Igoa , his staff and I were all here to help , that’s all it took for this man to trust me.

Being in this inpatient facility, I realized that mental illness is a field that needs so much insight and help.  Often I hear medical students/ PA students themselves not respect this field, often they get the adrenaline rush from being in an emergency room and Operating room.  For me , Dr. Igoa taught me how important it is to get these patients mentally stable. Many of the patients I interviewed had families, jobs, and other illnesses, If their mind is not healthy how will they be able to fulfill all their duties and responsibilities.

Imagine having to get up every morning dress your children ,make them food, get ready for work and have a mental illness?  It’s honestly something that goes on very often, and we as providers have to play an active role in making sure our patients are healthy in body and mind.

I can speak from experience, I lost my Godfather as a Senior In high school. I went through depression and anger issues myself, only my parents and my boyfriend got to experience this. At that moment I didn’t understand why couldn’t I just get up and get through my day like a normal person. My parents and boyfriend did their best everyday to be there for me but I would cry at random moments , get angry at anyone or anything. At this moment I didn’t realize that I was going through grief and wasn’t coping with it well.  This lasted about 1 year and a half.  I could be on a date with my fiancé and out of nowhere I would just cry and have to talk about it.  Depression hits you hard , it affects your everyday life, you lose the pleasure of doing things that you once loved.  I realize now that often patients are scared to admit they are having these feelings because its been known that we as a society don’t respect these sort of illnesses.

As a future provider whether I end up working in psychiatry or any other field I will make sure to always assess my patient’s mental well being .  When you take the time to get to know your patients you can tell when something isn’t right, if they are feeling down or up. Sometimes it’s just about asking the right questions- How are you doing today ? How’s work? How’s the family?

It’s our responsibility to speak up for our patients when they can’t , to give them the strength and skills to surpass difficult challenges.  Psychiatric illnesses is something we often overlook as providers,  let’s educate ourselves and our communities that these illnesses do exist and do affect us each and everyday. `

 

 

 

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Medical Service Trips For Pre PA Students

Cape Town, South Africa

Hello everyone! I am Meghan Ross, a soon to be PA student starting in 2017. I’m here guest blogging for Andrea and am going to share my experiences and thoughts on Medical Service trips and how I believe they were a really big factor on helping me get into PA school. This topic is very close to my heart. Some of my best experiences of my life to date have been having the opportunity to take two out of the country service trips while in undergraduate school at the University of Missouri. I believe most schools have similar opportunities for those interested in service and medicine!

Service trips are not only a HUGE way to make your application stand out among the masses, but

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Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting PA School

Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting PA School

Hi all! I’m Aashna, a PA student in her second semester of didactic year. I’m excited to be guest posting for Andrea and sharing a few things about my experience as a PA student. Last Friday my school was doing their second round of interviews for the class of 2019. I got to meet the group interviewing that morning and one of the girls asked me what surprised me the most about PA school. That question sparked the motivation behind this post! Here are a few things I wish I’d known before I started PA school:

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Emergency Medical Equipement Available On Commercial Flights

Have you ever been curious what medical equipment is available if you were involved in an in-flight medical emergency?  I’ll admit that I’m one of the last people to raise my hand when flight attendants ask for medical personnel to assist. However, I’ve been on two flights where I was the only medical provider.  After being involved in two in-flight medical emergencies within the same year, I decided to investigate this topic further.  Surprisingly, there is no medical provider on 10-25 % of all flights.  It is estimated that 44,000 in-flight medical emergencies occur yearly with 7.3% of them requiring diversion of the flight.  It’s quite a foreign feeling to be assessing and treating a patient in a nontraditional setting without your everyday equipment readily available.  So, in the unlikely event this happens to you, here is a list of the minimum medical equipment requirements for commercial flights carrying at least 20-30 passengers with at least 1 flight attendant on board per FAA guidelines:

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Attending the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Conference 2016

In recent years I have made every effort to attend the AAPA’s annual conference.  However, I spent my early years as a fledgling PA wondering what the conference was like and if it was worth the hassle of travel and added expenses.  I encountered very few PAs who stressed the importance of attending the conference, therefore, I assumed it should not be high on my priority list.  I was wrong.  A few years ago I attended my first AAPA conference and immediately craved more of the camaraderie felt during such an amazing gathering.  This year it was held in San Antonio, TX at an beautiful conference center with phenomenal keynote speakers, PA Kevin Lacz and Terry Stone.  Here is a recap of my week at the conference!


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DIY Cold Brew Coffee

DIY Cold Brew Coffee

I used to buy cold brew coffee (also called coffee concentrate) at the grocery store but then realized it is a hassle to stay stocked up and can become pretty pricey so I started making my own cold brew coffee about six months ago.  Once a week I make this using the recipe below and then use it for my morning iced coffee and protein shakes the rest of the week.  It’s extremely easy, inexpensive, and only takes about 5 minutes to make!

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What Is a Typical Day Like in the PICU?

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05:30: My alarm goes off which is the absolute worst sound in the world.

07:00: I receive checkout from the pediatric resident or PA/NP who covered overnight, discussing how each patient did, changes made, and any new admissions.

07:00-0900: I “pre-round” which entails examining all of my patients, assessing their clinical status, looking at newly resulted lab values, reviewing imaging studies, and deciding on a treatment plan for the day.

09:00-13:00:  Bedside multidisciplinary rounds occur with the attending, PA/NP, nurse, respiratory therapist, dietitian, pharmacist, and consulting services if available.  Bedside rounds consists of the PA, NP, or resident presenting their patient in an organized fashion, discussing them by systems, and stating their plan for the day.

13:00: Lunch

14:00-19:00: I spend the rest of the afternoon continually checking on my patients, reevaluating my treatment plan, ordering additional labs or imaging studies if needed, transferring patients, admitting new patients, dictating, and having fun with coworkers.  The ICU can actually be a pretty fun environment to work in.

19:00: I sign out all important information about my patients to the night resident or PA/NP then head home!  HOORAY!

 

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Rose Gold Stethoscope Giveaway!

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In celebration of the launch of my new website (even though it’s still heavily under construction) and to increase traffic to my non-indexed site to improve my SEO (I don’t know what that means but google tells me it’s uber important) I will be giving away a brand new ultra chic rose gold MDF stethoscope that I am OBSESSING over!  Yes, it may have a bit of a feminine flair, but if it’s not your style then I’m sure that you can think of one or two people who would love to receive it as a gift (wink, wink).  It is also available for purchase HERE.

To enter to win:

  1. Fill in your email address below so I can send you occasional love notes and website updates!
  2. Follow me on Instagram (@lifeasapa).
  3. Tag a friend who would also love this stethoscope under the Stethoscope Giveaway picture on my Instagram.
  4. The winner will be announced Saturday May 28th and contacted by email!

*This content uses referral links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.


Update 5/29/16:
Thanks to everyone who participated!  The winner has been contacted by email.  Congratulations Krista from Iowa!  I’ll be doing another giveaway of this stethoscope again in the near future so stay tuned!

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