Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Walking the WOC

See one, do one, teach one.

There is only so much medical knowledge that you can glean from reading the books. An internist's clinical eye can only be developed by actually seeing. A surgeon's hands can only gain their skill by actually doing.

And for doctors just at the beginning of our journey, the quality of practical knowledge often rests on the guidance of our teachers' wisdom and expertise. Our mentors spend time every week to see our patients with us, and share valuable clinical pearls with us - and many of them WOC - without compensation.

Having worked only in a training hospital and been reared in a culture where teaching is the norm all my years as a doctor, I admit that I never fully appreciated the time and the effort that our consultants put into our rearing.

It boggles the mind how these doctors, now leaders in their fields with busy practices, give precious hours of their time to teach despite the lack of financial return. How surgeons who charge a hefty fee for each procedure serve as first assists to surgical trainees doing a complicated procedure for the first time - and do it for free.

What's in it for them? Cynics will say that the prestige of being associated with a university with such a well-established reputation is motivation enough - but given how easy it is to get the hospital tagged to your name without having to give anything back, it cannot be the explanation. Maybe there are just people who simply love to teach. And then there are those who believe in paying it forward.

Whatever their reasons, these teachers continue to inspire and spur on struggling trainees to reach the standards they have set. And in doing so, they pass on their love of medicine and of teaching, so that despite the many challenges of a medical career, there will always be those who will walk the WOC with them.

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This is a contribution to The Blog Rounds 16 - Unsung Heroes hosted by Doc Gigi.


gigi said...

"Maybe there are just people who simply love to teach. And then there are those who believe in paying it forward." - I cannot think of any other reasons as well. Aside from keeping abreast with new knowledge, maybe. I am always under the impression that getting involved into academics is a lot of hard work; it's not something you'd do just to affix one's institution to his name. It must be dedication.

Thank you for joining the rounds. I'm glad you made it. Hope you're adjusting well down under.

MerryCherry, MD said...

I remember a lawyer friend of mine who's earning so well and decided to teach in UP Law night class and on weekends. In other words, during her free time. I was surprised and asked her why because certainly, the income is almost nothing.

She said that she wants to give back to the University who so willingly gave so much to her.

I guess it goes the same way for your Profs. :)

Ligaya said...

Even in training institutions, consultants vary in their commitment to teaching. There are some consultants who treat us as secretaries, but there are others who brighten up when asked questions and share a wealth of information. Some consultants ask a million questions, to the point na nakakatoxic na, but then I realize: they didn't have to do that. They certainly didn't gain anything from it, but I did. It's a great tradition, and you're right, Doc Claire, the ones who uphold it truly are heroes.

Got meloinks? said...

i agree. as i also love to teach, i love most those experts who take time to ask questions when they really don't benefit much from such. bless them.

dr_clairebear said...

@gigi: as they say here - no worries! :)

i don't have the confidence enough in my knowledge base to teach heavily on theory, but i've always liked doing clinical teaching - mainly because i know how much i appreciated it when i was a student as well. one other upside of teaching is that you're forced to continuously update your knowledge - so i think that's another draw as well. plus, i've heard it said so many times that teaching helps one stay young at heart. :)

J.A. said...

I'm now doing my training in a teaching hospital and I enjoy helping the senior clerks who rotate with us every 15 days figure out the radiologic images they are looking at. I appreciate those who show more interest in learning, and usually teach them more things. :)
You know Gaya, I loathe it each time one of my seniors uses the senior clerk as a secretary to take down his readings for an assignment or get his smock for him from our quarters... Kainis talaga! But what can I do, next year he will be the chief resident already! I'm just patiently waiting for him to graduate so that nobody in the department will start treating the interns as personal slaves and justify it as well...