Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What is an "Objective"?

When I started PA school the idea of an "Objective"was explained several times. I remember several of us being confused on just how much detail to include, what resources to take from, etc. Do we have to make one of these objective tables/sheets for each disease or disorder? I am going to try my best to explain what an objective sheet is and how you should make it your own.

For our Topics In Medicine (TIM) class we cover  disease (dz)/disorders per module (ex. psychiatry, infectious disease, etc). To help you learn all the dz you can create an objective sheet for each you are required to cover. An objective sheet can include the following:

  • Name of the disease:
  • Essentials of Diagnosis: Key clinical things that point you to said dz
  • Definition: keep it simple!
  • Epidemiology
  • Etiology
  • Pathogenesis
  • Physical Exam: (I usually put both signs and symptoms and physical exam findings)
  • Labs: which to order and results
  • DDX: Differential Diagnosis
  • Management/Treatment
  • Prognosis
  • Pearl- you will learn the key words for a dz and this is where I would write them down. (I also choose a large font and highlight them!) Another great thing to include are images (which are almost essential for dermatology). I also found youtube videos very helpful! 
You can add or delete sections as you see fit. Also, don't worry (or spend hours looking for information) if you do not have information for each section!! The main book/lecture you are using main not provide information about the epidemiology of a dz don't worry! Get the information you need down in an organized fashion so you can go back and review it! 

Some people don't make an objective sheet at all! So do not think this is a must it is just an option, a tool to help you while in PA school (and beyond)!  With time you get a better idea of what you need to include and what you need to leave out. It can be a painful process in the beginning but I promise it will get better! 

If you do a different style objective sheet or something completely different please share!