Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You don't have to know about this...

Every Family Medicine resident is familiar with the phrase, it occurs during a discussion about the acid base status of a complex patient, the settings on a ventilator in the ICU, or during a procedure in the emerg. "Don't worry, you don't have to know about this in Family Medicine." The temptation, of course, is to turn off your ears when you hear those words. The subject matter is complex, and apparently non-relevant. Sounds like a great opportunity to do a little mental wandering...but trust me, it's not. If you're a Family Medicine resident and you hear those words, resist the temptation, and listen to the discussion, not for the sake of being a keen learner, but to help yourself down the road when the lessons learned from that discussion may well come in handy.

From the point of view of the Specialist the phrase isn't meant to be derogatory towards future Family Docs. In big cities, where medical schools are located and where every manner of specialist and test is readily available it is probably inconceivable to Specialists in teaching hospitals that any Family Doc would need to know the nuances of whatever they are speaking about. In Canada some Family Doctors will spend their whole careers working in office based practices in cities, but just as many will spend at least part of their career working in a rural or remote area where a broader set of skills is called for.

So a heads up for any future Family Docs who read the blog. If you plan on spending some of your life outside of a city (and I'd encourage you to, it's a great experience), soak up all you can while you're a resident. Listen in on the stuff you supposedly don't need to know, ask the respiratory therapist how to boot up and work the ventilator, because in the end it will pay off. When you need to know something it's amazing how those conversations can pop back into your head and help you out in a sticky situation.

2 comments:

The MSILF said...

That's the best part of family med...you don't HAVE to know...but you probably should want to! You should want to know everything!

Liana said...

Oh... damn. Now you tell me!

Ha, just kidding!