The calm in the storm

June 9, 2011 —

While the new class of talented and eager P.A. students has already begun their first year at DMU, we D.O. students are enjoying a much needed break in our training as our summer gets into full swing.  As we all step out into the real world for the first time in months (on the second try – we had forgotten how garish daylight could be), we reflect on all the joyous possibilities that await us in a world without exams or SPALs*…at least for a few weeks more.

Ahh, it's time to take a break. For some DMU students, anyway.

While I still intend to fritter away a good part of my summer reading drab pharmacology notes or preparing well in advance for boards, I could hardly turn down a chance to do something pointless and unproductive for a change. I’m particularly delighted that this week marks the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) in LA, the High Holidays for videogame nerds everywhere in which our favorite developers unveil their latest creations for the coming year. I haven’t had time to spend on gaming for quite a while now. The expectation that Nintendo will reveal the successor to the Wii this week is one reason why I elected to repair my old Wii console instead of buying a new one when it stopped working last month (turned out to be a broken laser lens – I was able to find a suitable donor and perform a transplant with minimal complications, thanks to the contributions of my talented first-assist during the risky surgery).

I’ve also taken to spending more time volunteering at the Science Center of Iowa, where the “Body Worlds Vital” exhibit continues to be on display for a few more months. Thanks to those of you who attended my dissection demonstration on Friday, btw – I had never cut up a dead sheep in front of an audience before, but we certainly had a great crowd for the occasion. Myself and several other DMU students will be providing guided tours of the exhibit throughout the summer. If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to come check it out.

Also, when the oppressive heat dissipates and it’s safe to go outside again, the farmers’ markets are an obvious staple for the local Des Moinkers (a term which Dr. Mueller proposed as the demonym for people in Des Moines at our orientation last year). Now, coming from out East, I had sworn that the Strip in Pittsburgh had the best edibles in the world, but the foods sold at these markets give it a run for its money. They have pies that will basically come to life in your stomach, climb up to your ear, and sing you enchanting melodies with their flavor. Yeah, I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, but there’s no other way to describe the phenomenon that they evoke. Just try one already, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

In an entirely unrelated note, good luck in Anatomy to all the first-year PAs. Just remember, it eventually ends. Just like everything else.

*SPALs are sessions for DMU clinical students in the Standardized Performance Assessment Laboratory, which uses people trained to play the roles of actual patients in a physical exam setting.


Nathan McConkey discovered DMU all the way from his hometown near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating college as a teenager with a degree in molecular biology, he wanted to begin a master of public health degree online while working as an EMT and teaching labs at his undergraduate college. Eventually, the plan was to attend a local medical school in Pennsylvania. Little did he know, however, that his exposure to the MPH program would eventually lure him all the way out to the Midwest to pursue his medical training at Des Moines University instead. When he’s not working on his two degrees or over ten different jobs and volunteer positions on campus, he enjoys discovering new reasons why the city of Des Moines isn’t nearly as boring as his East-Coast perspective had led him to believe.

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