Journey to DMS

Journey to DMS | Chapter 4

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One module down, 8 to go!

I just posted my last weekly reflection for the cardiology module–that’s one module down and eight more to go in LMU’s Doctor of Medical Science program for PAs. For the next five weeks, we’ll be studying nephrology, with a retired nephrologist as our instructor.

DMS Module Breakdown

Thankfully, the structure of this module is essentially the same as it was for the cardiology module:

  • Optional pre-test at the beginning of each week
  • Pre-recorded lectures, MKSAP readings and questions, NEJM questions, pharmacology readings, and other optional readings weekly
  • Post-test at the end of each week
  • Weekly collaborative two-part case study with a presentation during the live class on Sunday
  • Two final comprehensive tests at the end of the module
    • Anatomy and pharmacology
    • Clinical medicine and imaging

Throughout the cardiology module, and for each and every subsequent module, we complete 75 questions from the New England Journal of Medicine Knowledge+ program as well as 120 questions from ACP’s MKSAP 18. 

MKSAP Questions

There was a little confusion initially as I understood that we were only required to complete specific questions from MKSAP that were listed on Blackboard. In order to complete the module, however, and generate the required CME certificate that also serves as proof of completion, all 120 topic-specific questions have to be completed. I guess I’m still not clear on why they list specific questions totaling less than the required 120 if all 120 need to be completed in the end. 


Regarding the learning management system (LMS), the University uses Blackboard.  At this point, most people have likely used a few different LMS platforms. In undergrad, we used Blackboard and then Moodle in PA School. When I started doing adjunct work at a local university, they used Brightspace but then transitioned to Canvas. It took a few weeks to become familiar with Blackboard again but I don’t feel it’s an issue now.

Our MKSAP reading for this week as we start the nephrology module will cover clinical evaluation of kidney disease; chronic kidney disease; end-stage renal disease; and the kidney in pregnancy.

DMS Textbooks

We also have a renal-specific text for this module: The National Kidney Foundation’s Primer on Kidney Diseases, Seventh Edition. Students were not required to purchase this book and PDF copies of the required sections are being made available. 

We will continue to use Lachman’s Case Studies in Anatomy but this time the required readings appear to have a pre-recorded lecture as well. 

Research Project

I still haven’t put much time into my research project. I’ve been juggling a few different ideas with a desire to conduct some primary research. The contacts I had for the research ideas are not panning out, however, so I think I’ll just have to do a literature review. I have a pretty good topic in mind, I just need to find a few hours to sit down and go through the provided class materials and then see what’s already on PubMed

I better get back to work! Thankfully I don’t have any documentation from the clinic to complete and I’m no longer on call. I have just completed the nephrology week one pretest so I think I’ll work on the first part of this week’s collaborative case and then do some reading and questions from MKSAP if possible. 

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