My program director, clinical coordinators, and two other students from my program attended the conference with me and invited us all to dinner at a local restaurant on the Riverwalk. I could not be more thankful for what they provided us while at the conference; whether it be dinner, words of wisdom, or even just gratitude for us taking the time to join them. Aside from the great food and atmosphere, I was able to learn from many other new faces at the conference. I learned so many things starting with some basics about being a hospitalist PA, surgical PA, transplant crisis, job searching, new technology and much more.
Some interesting take home notes:
1. The new criteria for kidney transplants has helped increase the number of kidneys to the middle aged population but decreased the number to pediatrics.
2. The population 60-65+ can opt to get a "hep C- infected" organ and take prophylaxis/meds to prevent the transmission of the hep C so that theoretically they won't get the Hep C. This was developed in one of the major medical facilities but is not extremely popular.
3. Hospitalist PA's see all sorts of interesting cases and get to follow their patients during their hospital stay. One PA said that when he worked in Scotland, if a patient presented with a hip fracture, he/she was given a nerve block to reduce pain. This pain management method was implemented to reduce the number of pain meds and opioid addictions for such a painful injury. I personally think this is a great idea in theory since pain medications do not always "relieve" the pain as much as they make the patient "not care" about the pain. A nerve block can help the patient legitimately "relieve" and "not feel" the pain during their stay or even until they are partially healed. The only downside to this could be more risks of execution, and longer hospital stays, which the US seems to avoid due to over night hospital costs.
4. Unfortunately, I did not arrive until the afternoon on Sunday so I missed out on the Saturday activities; however, my classmate informed me that our SAAAPA leadership group, that I volunteered on, presented our work and seemed very impressive. He said that he thought we "did a lot of work." This makes me proud, even though I only helped in small ways for this group, its great to see that all of us were able to help make something great like clarifying the AOR position and creating ways for other students to get involved in leadership within the AAPA.
5. There are tons of jobs for PA's. Sometimes I get nervous about finding the right job or not being competitive enough for the specialty that I want, but after speaking with different companies, hospitals, recruiters, special interest societies, and other PA's, I started to realize that the world is at our fingertips. Salaries, benefits and opportunities are competitive for facilities to gain more PA's.
6. There are so many different inventions and procedures for learning purposes, efficiency and better patient care. It was awesome to be able to see the demonstrations for some of this stuff. For example, there was a one size fits all finger and toe tourniquet that can reduce blood flow injury. There was also an ultrasound teaching software that allowed students to use a simulated US machine to read, dx and tx. Finally, there was a life size, virtual dissection table (cost ~$70k) that could be used for teaching with a clearer picture of the body. They were trying to sell it as a supplement to a cadaver lab but I see its practical use more in facilities that can not have a real cadaver lab, since even though there is not a tangible component to the VR table, it can at least provide a life size portrayal of dissection.
Would I do it all again?
When the sun went down and lectures ceased for the day, we took it upon ourselves to meander the land of San Antonio and get some great local Texas cuisine. I never thought that I would be able to set foot on the Alamo or even see the Riverwalk. Something about San Antonio is pretty awesome by day and very charming and welcoming by night. Since all the hotels were very close to the convention center, it was great to be able to walk to my hotel and know I was surrounded by PA's.
So again, would I do it all again? I would say yes, because the things I learned from the conference could not be replaced.