By Laura Livingston
Assistant Director of the Clinical Learning Resource Center at Texas A&M Health Science Center, Laura describes her experience as a participant in the pre-conference workshop: Advanced Practice in Invasive Exam Instruction and Practicum lead by presenters, Isle Polonko, BA and Scott George, MLIR.
Waiting outside the exam room, I was relatively confident in my knowledge of this topic. After 42 years and two children, I had personally experienced the pelvic exam over 50 times. My mind drifted to the unpleasant sensation of lying flat on my back, shielded from all but the top of a doctor’s head as my most sensitive region was prodded and probed without much more than a “By your leave, ma’am.” I was intrigued by the thought of being on the other side of the sheet for a change.
What followed was the most humbling, yet empowering experience of my life. In a gentle and reassuring voice, a Gynecological Teaching Associate (GTA) adeptly described the exam she would help us perform. The specificity of instruction was staggering yet paled in comparison to the nurturing patience with which she guided us through each step of the exercise. Forgiving our novice blunders with grace and encouragement, she offered wonderfully effective strategies from the perspective of someone with a profound understanding of her own body.
When the knock signaled encounter’s end, a collective groan arose from the participants. We lingered asking questions until practically dragged from the room. I was exhilarated as my consciousness spiraled with the possibilities of bringing this unparalleled method of teaching to my institution. By the time the Male Urological Teaching Associate (MUTA) exam had ended, I determined the teaching I had received during this workshop was beyond reproach. What I had mistaken for confidence was actually ignorance…I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
I talked of little else for the remainder of the conference. “It must have been good,” someone remarked, “you haven’t come up for air in 48 minutes!”
It wasn’t just good…it was a paradigm shift; a catapult toward something profoundly more effective that will change the way health care providers are educated and thus the way they practice.