Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fragments of Medical School: How Smart Were You?

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Interesting discussions come up when you talk to people that are in school full time. Everything they do revolves around learning.

Everything.

All the time.

Unsurprisingly, much of their conversation revolves around learning. This is not so difficult for me to participate in, as someone who makes a living trying to instruct, but sometimes discussing the progression of learning brings up odd conversations.

This past week I dined with a few of Curtis’s fellow classmates, who are all enjoying a month away from their stressful regime to interview for next year’s residency. Over bowls of child, cornbread muffins, and slices of chocolate moose cake, the graduating physicians started discussing at what point they were most smart.

That’s right, they are all quite sure they are going down hill from here.

Obviously, as they choose their specialties and begin their residency they become more knowledgeable in a specific field: family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine. But as they specialize they loose the wide-breadth of knowledge that they have spent hours and weeks and months gathering and substitute it for a small focus.

So when did they “know” the most?

In the debate between whether the first or second board exam required a greater breadth of knowledge, they began discussing circumstances that impeded their studying: A death in the family. A stressful rotation. An attempt at balance.

In the end it was pretty obvious that the conversation was entertainment at best, and far from important. When it comes down to it, few people care how many facts and how much information is available during an eight hour test. After residency, no one cares about your scores.

In the end, being able to do something well, rather than just know a lot about it, is far more important.

Even if you can’t attach a grade to it.

1 comment:

  1. I think my husband would say he was the smartest (book smart. not clinically smart) about a week or two prior to taking his first board exam. And then it is a race not to forget faster than you are learning before you take the test. Remember these conversations. :) Oh the days that I'm glad are behind us.

    It is Shelf exam time in these parts. Mostly this means seeing him in 10 minute increments through out the day. However, somehow we are going on a date tonight. A real date. A dinner and movie date. (I can count these on one hand in all of dating and marriage!) (Mostly b/c we NEVER 'go' to the movies, but since Jason's interest is piqued by the likes of Avatar, we shall go)

    I can't wait.

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