The Waiting Game

I talk a lot about my now partly apocryphal realization that I would be learning residency-level surgery-grade radiology all by myself. I think it was Clark? Or someone as influential? who when, trying to follow his zip scrolling through an axial view, I naively asked, “When do we learn how to read CT scans?”

And without stopping his scrolling, he said “You don’t. You learn by yourself or you don’t learn at all.”

This paradigm is one of the reasons I formally wanted to study education. This is the polar opposite of the undergraduate and undergraduate medical school paradigm. Lectures, PBLs, presentations, let’s-all-read-pages-A-through-D, the-quiz-covers-these-chapters. The days of formal education seem to be gone. Not totally, mind you. I imagine there’s a spectrum. UMass has didactics, SCORE-integrated lectures and there’s a theoretical learning from M&Ms and Grand Rounds – though as with all things, mileage may vary. MGH on the other hand, has a more formalized simulation curriculum and I have seen evidence of learning together with cases, group sessions, etc. I thought maybe I was in the Mecca of compartmentalized, dedicated learning.

But part of removing the “under” from UGME means that as Graduate of Medical Education, I now should not wait for someone to bring me along. That doesn’t mean I don’t have didactics in research. Or that graduate students and fellows don’t have classes. But if you want to or need to learn something, don’t just wait on someone or someone else. Or as I was reminded today, I should not wait to dedicate the next few days to weeks to making sure I understand stats or can write in R. There’s no more waiting for the right time. There’s no more waiting for the right person. The right time is whenever you can get to it and the right person is you.

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