“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.” ~Carlos Castaneda

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What do we do now?

“Real education must ultimately be limited to men
who insist on knowing, the rest is mere sheep-herding.”
~Ezra Pound

My son is here this week with is girlfriend. They are a cute couple. I wonder sometimes what she sees in him but I guess love is blind. Speaking with him last night I came to the realization that training residence is in someways like trying to lead you older children towards on path and away from another. Trying to keep them from making the same errors, misguided judgments, and just plain ole' stupid mistakes. You know the old mantra, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

I am a bold face teacher. Sometimes I add in italics, but for the most part bold face. What is bold print teaching? I try to ask questions, referred to lovingly by med students and residents as pimping, that are helpful in guiding their learning, relevant to patient care, and commonly tested. Most of the questions I ask are in bold face in the text book. I will concede that sometimes my question is not as precise as I would like (the what am I thinking question), but for the most part I do OK.

This past week my partner was out of town, so I did a majority of the procedures this week. The residents were with me all week. It was kind of exhausting for me. I was running from place to place, clinic to clinic, OR to OR. The residents double teamed me. It just doesn't seem fair. Luckily this year it wasn't as busy as it was in the previous years. I was able to do a bit more teaching. Because I had a captive audience, I was able to teach en masse. It was busy and fun, at least for me.

Over dinner yesterday with my son and his girlfriend, it reminded me of the past 2 weeks. Asking what the future holds, trying to guide him down paths and not having much success. He may have considered my questions similar to pimping. For him, there were no bold face answers. Life is different. It is very much like a "box of chocolates." The thing that reminded me of this week wasn't the questioning; it was the blank look on his face. You know what I mean. It is that, I have no idea and if I stall long enough may be he will ask someone else or just tell me.

This week was a plethora of learning and growth this week. Because I was the only one there most of the time, I was able to teach 2-3 of the residents at the same time. I could actually feel the learning. It was great. Doing cases this week, I think my residents realized that it is not as easy as it sometimes looks and that you can't learn everything from the book. As I have said before, I feel like a conductor. My role is to guide them, to give them the tools and the knowledge for future practice. I can't give them all the answers. They will have to learn that over time. I watched them struggle this week. Case after case, I found myself bailing them out of different situations. They made no real errors; they were just having difficulty making it "look easy." They kept giving me that blank look. The "what do we do now" look.

In medicine and in life, I don't think I know any more than the next person. There are some people who know more and others who know less. I am sure of one thing, I know what I know. I understand the limits of my knowledge base and my experience. I try to pass on to my residents my clinical experience and to my son my life experience in order to keep them from making the same mistakes and errors I have made. There are times I succeed and other times I fail. I just hope that one day their faces will be filled with the all the answers.

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide
the conditions in which they can learn.”
~Albert Einstein

1 comment:

Midwife with a Knife said...

Reminds me of the song lyric, "Pimipin' aint easy". :)

I'm much more of a guess what I'm thinking question asker, which is not my intent. I try to get the residents to think through problems, and I'm still working on figuring out the best way to do that.