Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

11Oct/06Off

Knowledge… or lack thereof

I'm taking two electives this semester- Radiology for Dummies and The ABCs of ECGs. I figure both of those are important skills to have as a "health professional" (as they are apt to call us nowadays). Personally, I'd love for my doctor to be able to, say, look at an X-ray and know what it means.

I, on the other hand, look at an X-ray and all I see is some bones on a dark background. Perhaps some fuzzy white stuff in the lungs. Maybe some grey stuff in the abdomen that vaguely resembles the spaghetti I ate last night. I am incapable of seeing fractures, tumors, infiltrates, or anything else that you should see on X-ray (or CT scan, for that matter).

Needless to say, both of these classes have been quite the rude awakening. Our radiology prof pretended to be a patient the first day. "I come into the ER and I've got right-sided chest pain... what do you do?", he said. We all stared at him, slack-jawed. The heart is on the left, I thought to myself. That wouldn't cause right sided chest pain. And then I realized- I had no fucking idea.

You can ask me what causes a restrictive cardiomyopathy, or what the 4 components of the Tetralogy of Fallot are, or even what the symptoms of early Parkinson's are. On a multiple choice exam. Faaaaar removed from a live patient.

I am now officially terrified to go onto the wards. I have no idea how we're going to translate theoretical knowledge to clinical practice, because frankly I'm still scared to walk into a patient's room by myself. I don't know all the questions that I should ask. I don't know all the signs and symptoms I should be looking for. And most of all, I fear the uncomfortable silence that is bound to come when it's obvious that I don't know what I'm doing!

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By the way, I'm sorry I haven't been updating very much lately. I've got 5 posts saved as drafts that consist of nothing more than 1-2 sentences... for some reason I've been having trouble finding things to say. Not like I say anything worthwhile normally :-) .

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