Some of the Most Important Advice Before Starting PA School

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November 25, 2020
Every oak tree starts as a single acorn. But the tallest oak trees, the ones that are most stable, have the strongest foundation. It is this strong foundation that prevents them from toppling over during the worst storms. 

This is the inspiration I took for my journey through medicine, which started by building a strong foundation by learning anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

You can start building your foundation, too. 

Introducing the Pre-PA Student Boot Camp Qbank designed for students accepted to PA school who want to show up on day 1 with a strong foundation to launch their career in medicine. 

The Pre-PA Student Boot Camp Qbank covers the following subjects:

  • Anatomy for beginners
  • Advanced anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology 
  • Professional practice
  • PA student wellness

Learn the anatomy basics

Question: Which of the following anatomical planes divides the body into superior and inferior parts?

A. Frontal plane

B. Median plane

C. Sagittal plane

D. Transverse plane

Answer: D

Anatomical descriptions rely on four imaginary planes that intersect the body in the anatomical position. The imaginary lines include the median plane, sagittal planes, frontal planes, and transverse planes. The median plane is a type of sagittal plane that passes longitudinally through the center of the body and divides it into right and left halves. There is only one median plane, while there are many sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. Sagittal planes are oriented vertically and are parallel to the median plane. Frontal (coronal) planes are vertically oriented planes that pass through the body at right angles to the sagittal planes. They divide the body into anterior and posterior parts. Transverse planes are horizontal planes that divide the body into superior and inferior parts.

Frontal plane (A) is a vertically oriented anatomical plane that divides the body into anterior and posterior parts. Median plane (B) is a type of sagittal plane that divides the body into right and left halves at the midline. Sagittal plane (C) is a vertically oriented plane that divides the body into right and left parts.


Get ahead with advanced anatomy 

Question: Which of the following shows the correct organization of the brachial plexus, moving from proximal to distal?

A. Cords, divisions, roots, trunks

B. Divisions, cords, trunks, roots

C. Roots, trunks, cords, divisions

D. Roots, trunks, divisions, cords

Answer: D

Roots, trunks, divisions, cords is the correct organization of the brachial plexus from proximal to distal. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves originating from the anterior rami of the C5–T1 spinal nerves. These spinal nerves constitute the five roots of the brachial plexus. The roots of the brachial plexus form three trunks in the inferior portion of the neck. The C5 and C6 root form the superior trunk, the C7 root continues as the middle trunk, and the C8 and T1 roots form the inferior trunk. As these nerves pass through the cervicoaxillary canal posterior to the clavicle, they are divided into anterior and posterior divisions. The anterior divisions of the trunks innervate the flexor compartments of the upper limb, while the posterior division of the trunks innervate the extensor compartments of the upper limb. These anterior and posterior divisions form three cords within the axilla. The anterior divisions of the superior and middle trunks form the lateral cord. The anterior division of the inferior trunk continues as the medial cord. The posterior divisions of the superior, middle, and inferior trunks all unite to form the posterior cord. The cords of the brachial plexus are named for their position relative to the axillary artery. Finally, the brachial plexus can be divided into supraclavicular and infraclavicular parts by their position relative to the clavicle. The supraclavicular part originates from the anterior rami and trunks of the brachial plexus and gives off four branches: the dorsal scapular nerve, the long thoracic nerve, the nerve to the subclavius, and the suprascapular nerve. Muscular branches that innervate the scalene and longus colli muscles also originate from the anterior rami of the C5–T1 spinal nerves. The infraclavicular part of the plexus originates from the cords of the brachial plexus and gives off the lateral pectoral, musculocutaneous, median, medial pectoral, medial cutaneous nerve of the arm, median cutaneous nerve of the forearm, ulnar, upper subscapular, lower subscapular, thoracodorsal, axillary, and radial nerves.

Brachial plexus schematic

Cords, divisions, roots, trunks (A); divisions, cords, trunks, roots (B); and roots, trunks, cords, divisions (C) are not the correct order of the brachial plexus structure.


Build your physiology foundation

Question: Which of the following are the two locations of baroreceptors?

A. Aortic arch and common iliac artery

B. Brachiocephalic trunk and common iliac artery

C. Carotid sinus and aortic arch

D. Carotid sinus and brachiocephalic trunk

Answer: C

Baroreceptors are mechanoreceptors (sense pressure changes) that attempt to maintain a constant arterial pressure. They are fast acting and neurally mediated. The baroreceptors are located in the carotid sinus and aortic arch. Baroreceptors exert their effect by changing sympathetic and parasympathetic output. They sense changes in pressure and send signals to the vasomotor centers in the brainstem. In response, the brainstem alters autonomic (parasympathetic and sympathetic) output, which attempts to maintain a normal arterial pressure. The afferent receptors from the carotid sinus travel by the glossopharyngeal nerve to the brainstem, while the afferent receptors from the aortic arch travel by the vagus nerve to the brainstem. The autonomic nervous system can cause changes in arterial pressure by altering heart rate, heart contractility, and arterial or venous vasoconstriction.

Baroreceptors

Aortic arch and common iliac artery (A) is incorrect because the common iliac artery does not have baroreceptors. The brachiocephalic trunk and common iliac artery (B) do not have baroreceptors. Carotid sinus and brachiocephalic trunk (D) is incorrect because the brachiocephalic trunk does not have baroreceptors.

One Step Further: 

Which nucleus in the brainstem integrates information from the baroreceptors?

Nucleus tractus solitarius.


Familiarize yourself with medical terminology

Question: Which of the following is the term for a burning sensation that is usually felt in the hands, arms, feet, or legs?

A. Causalgia

B. Hyperesthesia

C. Paresthesia

D. Peripheral neuropathy

Answer: C

Paresthesia (par– means disordered, esthes– means sensation, and -ia means condition) refers to a burning or pins and needles sensation that is typically felt in the hands, arms, feet, or legs.Causalgia (A) (caus- means burning, and -algia means pain) refers to a persistent and severe burning pain that usually occurs after an injury to a sensory nerve. Hyperesthesia (B) (hyper- means excessive, esthes- means sensation, and -ia means condition) refers to a condition characterized by excessive sensitivity to touch, pain, or other sensory stimuli. Peripheral neuropathy (D) (neuro- means nerve, and -pathy means disease) is a disorder of the peripheral nerves that carry information to and from the brain and spinal cord. It produces pain, loss of sensation, and inability to control muscles.


Be ready on day 1 of PA school. 

Show your preceptors you are a dedicated student who takes initiative. 

Your patients will thank you.


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