At almost every step of the way you are shocked by how very little you actually know about medicine.
When I started medical school, I was in complete awe at how much is known about the human body, our cells, and what can go wrong. It was a serious shock to the system.
When you finish your first two years of medical school and start your clinical rotations, you are shocked once again because you really know very little. You really don’t know anything. The cycle just starts over and keep repeating itself.
When you finally finish medical school and are finally considered a real doctor and start residency, again, you are shocked by how little you really know once again. You may have a lot of information and experienced stored, but now you have to put it together and take care of patients.
I remember my very first rotation as a third year medical student, you can read about it on this blog, I was asked by Dr. Luhrwick why I did not examine a patient’s abdomen that had abdominal complaints. All that book knowledge and all those classes, but no one really taught us how to put it all together.
When I first began my residency, I had to ask how to order breathing treatments, one of the simplest orders in medicine. This is as a fully graduated doctor with a shiny new long doctor white coat and the new initials behind my name.
“So, Dr. Alo… you don’t know how to write for breatihng treatments?”
The education of a physician is long, ardous, and humbling. Every day you are reminded how little you really know. If you think reading helps, it only makes this worse. The more you read, the more you realize that there is that you don’t know, and may never know. But you have to keep reading. Read, read, read!
Medicine is an ever changing field. It’s so vast, wide, and exhaustive. It’s nearly impossible to know even “some” medicine. Now I can fully appreciate why there are so many specialties and sub specialities. And even sub specialists don’t know everything about their little niche.
I used to wonder as a student, why is this doctor (ob/gyn or orthopod) sending this guy to another doctor for hypertension? Can’t they just fix it. Sounds easy enough?
I always tell my medical students that as a physician you will always be a teacher and always be a student.
One of my favorite sayings is, “If you know something, tell someone. If you don’t, ask.”