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Inadequate, Inspired and Incomplete

It doesn’t take long after I begin to feel comfortable with my schoolwork, clinical science, the study of medicine in general before reality reminds me of the work still to be done. I am humbled again and realize that for every question I know, there are a dozen which I have no answers too.

Shadowing – I’ve been spending more time outside of class following doctors and surgeons around, partly to get more of a clinical exposure and partly to see what specialties I would be interested in. If you are a medical student shadowing someone, it is the preceptor’s responsibility to PIMP you. (PIMP being an acronym for Put In My Place, a process where the doctors ask increasingly difficult questions until you feel inadequate and are motivated to do your homework)

Being asked questions is a good way to learn and put your classroom teachings in context. For example, a physician may point to different parts of an X-ray and ask you about anatomy and physiology. You feel confident when you know the answers. When harder questions are asked such as the pathology and symptoms of certain diseases come around, you become less certain. Soon enough, there will be questions where you will be completely lost on. It is always nice to be reminded of the gaps in your knowledge and it always motivates me to do better.

Experts –  Shadowing any doctor (or any other highly accomplished professional for the matter) is always inspiring. As I observe them talking with patients and going over cases, I can see the clarity of their mental processes and how much care they put in. Watching a surgeon perform an operation smoothly and precisely is awe-inspiring.

I wonder if I will be like my mentors? Will I have their bed-side manners and clinical judgment? Will I miss something important and cause harm? It’s even harder to imagine that in three short years, I will “officially” be a doctor (albeit one in training) and that people will trust me with their lives and secrets.

A Work in Progress – Which brings me to my final point, I am still incomplete. I have just started on this long journey, and if you ask any physician, they will tell you that the learning never stops. All doctors are life-long students of medicine.

Rome was not built in one day. Likewise the surgeons, internists, specialists and family docs who right now seem to have such innate ability to interact, diagnose and treat patients did it gradually through many stages. That’s why, each morning I make it my goal to be a better person than I was yesterday. Although my daily challenges and successes may seem insignificantly small, through an accumulation of baby steps, one day I hope I can be a good doctor.

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  1. Julia
    Julia April 30, 2009

    This post is incredibly well-written and hits the nail on the head about what exactly is so inspiring about good doctors and good students of medicine. Thanks so much for expressing these sentiments.

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