I started teaching...

Thanks to my well crafted social media presence and a little bit of my southern charm I was approached and asked to teach an introduction to radiology course for one of New York’s PA programs. I went through a few phases of emotions and feelings as this went along. I have given lectures at CME rounds for audiences large and small, but I have never taught a full academic course, much less for one as intense as physician assistant training or one that required more than a few days of background and preparation.

First came the inquisitive phase: I wanted to know all the details with as much specifics as possible. When? Where? Exactly what topics? For how long? How much will I be paid? How do I get there? Will I get the time off? Second came the determination phase. I was confident that I was going to do a damn good job and set off to prepare the curriculum and build power point slides. Immediately following this over-confidence phase, I was broadsided by the reality phase. I had little time to not only prepare curriculum, but re-learn old knowledge and learn things I hadn’t seen before. On top of all this, I started business school. I began to wonder if I really could teach these students well enough to prepare them for rigorous exams and a clinical year. To follow the reality phase is what I am calling the “Legally Blonde” phase: I did my best to Elle Woods my way through the first two power point presentations and got my hands on any book, journal article, or website that would help solidify my, for lack of better terms, scant knowledge of radiology (comparatively of course).

What came next was the most fulfilling and exhilarating phase I choose to call “nailed it”. These were the most welcoming students who were so grateful that I took time off work to travel to them to teach a few courses. They were inquisitive and challenging at times, but it warmed my heart to see such bright faces sitting in a seat I occupied only seven years ago. The lectures were a huge success and I was informed that the class average on the final exam (which I wrote) was a high “B”. Their feedback was constructive but also sweet and endearing, in such a way that I just cannot wait to get back to the podium to teach some more.

Joseph Ciavarro