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Managing your own health issues while in PA school


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I am starting PA school next summer however I'm concerned about staying healthy while I am in school. I have been through a lot medically over the past year and I have to take pills 4 times daily at specific times, some with food and some without food. If I slack in this area I could possibly end up hospitalized again which obviously cannot happen. I have specialist appointments every 3 months at Johns Hopkins which I cannot control the time or day of but must show up to. Has anyone that is in a program or was in a program been able to manage health issues in a healthy manner and was the program understanding (I would hope?!)? Thanks for the insight!

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Never had anything THAT drastic, but I did have to continue my allergy desensitization shots while in PA school, so that meant finding time to do that every 2 weeks, but I was able to transfer my serum to an allergist 2 blocks from my school, so I could walk down after class or during lunch during didactic year.  Clinical year was a lot harder, and I had to have some breaks in my therapy (like, when I was out of the country).

 

You need to talk to your program.  They should WANT you to succeed, and being unhealthy is not succeeding.

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I am a type 1 diabetic with hypoglycemia unawareness so I test frequently and eat a small meal or snack every two-three hours. I have a few other autoimmune issues as well so I take three pills a day at weird times with/without food and average 2-3 appointments every 3 months. All of this was managed pretty easily by my program. I was very upfront about my needs and had many doctors notes to back them up. Clinical year was actually easier for me as there were only 1 or two rotations where grabbing a granola bar or apple in between patients was not feasible. I told every preceptor (as required by my program but would have anyways) that I was diabetic and everyone was great. For me diabetes is covered under the ADA so they are required to make reasonable accomodations. I second that your program should want you to succeed. I would argue that having to deal with medical issues will make you a better PA as you can relate to your patients better.

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Thanks guys! I developed hypoparathyroidism after total thyroidectomy and am starting a PTH injectable trial with NIH because my calcium levels are always low even while taking 7-8 pills of caco3 vit d hctz and calcitriol daily. If i miss pills i will get paresthesia, tetany, and perioral numbness. Obviously if i dont treat at that point i need IV ca gluconate asap. I'm anxious I might be in a situation where i am so busy I'm neglecting my care. You guys made me feel so much better!

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Your program will find a way to support you. How are they supposed to teach you to take care of people if they won't take care of you?

 

Just recognize that in some situations it may be best to sit out a semester to let things stabilize, especially if things are in flux and meds are being adjusted. No one likes to delay life goals but you have to make a judgment call how much things might interfere with your studies. If you decide to proceed and things do not go well, you own that decision.

 

If you have questions you institution should have some kind of disability support office that can help arrange things.

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The program legally has to accommodate you. The tough part may be taking care of yourself as the stress and work load accumulates. Just talk to your program director ahead of time.

 

You have my admiration. We also had a student in my class with a major health issue. I have a lot of respect for you guys for not letting that stop you and for handling the burden while going through school.

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Both the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require that they accommodate you.  However, the responsibility is on you to advise them of the limitation and discuss a reasonable accommodation.  You should contact the Disability Services Office at the school first.  They will walk you through the process of relaying the information to the Program Director.  In my experience this makes things easier for the specific program since they may or may not have dealt with your particular situation before. Then again you're dealing with health professionals so that should make for a smooth process.

 

Research the two Acts listed above just so you know what you are entitled to legally.

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I suppose programs vary, but somehow I don't think that getting an accommodation for you will be all that big a deal. I would just go in and tell them what you need. Don't expect to be hassled about it because (1) it just adds unneeded stress now and (2) worrying about stuff that isn't a problem yet is not going to help.

 

We had rules too, like you had to turn your phone off and you were supposed to go to the bathroom during breaks. I told them my phone would have to stay on vibrate because I had elderly parents and a daughter expecting a baby. I also had older "plumbing" and, by God, when I have to pee, I have to pee. I expected no problems and there weren't any.

 

My take: Just be businesslike about your needs and don't disrupt the class meeting them. No one in their right mind wants you to be hospitalized, so just plan on getting up and taking your pills when you need to, without fanfare.

 

Good luck!

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I am not in pa school yet, but worked with disability services in my undergrad. You call the disability office and set up an appointment. They interview you regarding what accommodations you think are appropriate and what they can offer and then make a decision on what your accommodations will be, provided you can get a doctors note (which you will have no problem with). At the beginning of each new class they give you a printed note to give your instructor that lists your accommodations and opens a dialogue. I only had a few problems with professors not accommodating my needs and my disability coordinator met with them and there were no future problems.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I would be surprised if you end up having to be super-officious and having to call in disabilities services to take a med on a schedule in a PA program. It's nice to know that they're out there if you need them but, if it were me, I'd just try the adult approach of explaining your situation to your program director.  It's like having to take an insulin shot and who in their right mind stops someone from doing that?

 

Just relax; this shouldn't be a big deal and, if on the bizarre chance it does, there are plenty of resources to help.

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