Medical Knowledge and it’s endless practicalities

College is different for everyone, but the ultimate goal is for you to learn and gain knowledge. Success after college can vary, but the majority of people who are successful have internal motivation and are able to USE their knowledge.

In PA school you spend 3 years in undergrad pretending you know medicine. You reach didactic year (senior year) and the real learning begins. The professors are encouraging but also intimidating. They know all this “stuff” and they try to tell us they sat in our seats, but what does that really mean?
 The answer: they used their medical knowledge and became real providers.

There are so many things we learn as students, but the true success arrives when the student becomes the teacher. The goal of learning medicine isn’t just to help people, it’s to share your knowledge and share your teaching ability. Right now I spend an average of 35–40 hours in class, and twice that studying each week. I’m shoveling facts and scenarios into my brain so that one day I can go out into the real world and use what I’ve learned.
 The hardest task to overcome in school is the realization that there is a reason for learning.

Being able to take what you’ve been taught and turn it into medicine is a wonderful gift. Cherish it.

Think about this…

A young woman presents to your office complaining of abdominal pain. As a PA student, I know that the differential diagnosis is endless. I proceed to ask a series of questions, hoping to find the right diagnosis. Statistics show that 90% of abdominal pain complaints won’t be diagnosed if you don’t have the answer at the end of your history. During my visit, I ask my questions, share what I have learned, and help this woman.

I use my knowledge and ask my questions. By the end of my 10 minute encounter with this patient I have her diagnosis. I search my brain for any further testing I may need to order, and send this young woman home with a treatment. Hopefully, before she leaves the office she has learned something about her condition, so that she can go home and tell her significant other or parents what is going on and why it is happening.

Using your knowledge is one of the most difficult, but also the most beneficial things you can do. Many schools now are leaning towards “case based learning.” This means that to learn medicine, you will learn by doing. You will read a case, take the history, do the physical exam, and learn the diagnosis.

This lesson is important in everyday life. Medical knowledge is a blessing not everyone shares. The skills of using the knowledge, however, are skills that everyone can utilize. Think about what you learned yesterday. Even if it was a fact your child shared when they came home from school. Remember that fact. Tomorrow, use it.