From the desk of Doc Smo: A teacher’s influence (Article)

Over the course of my career, I have had the privilege of teaching and mentoring medical students and pediatric residents.    At my medical center, each first year pediatric resident is paired with a local pediatrician to gain  experience in providing general pediatric care to a wide range of children.   When these young doctors first arrive at my office, they are bright and enthusiastic, but, as one would expect, they  lack the confidence and experience that will make them effective pediatricians.  They learn quickly, however, and by their second year they are comfortable and competent with uncomplicated checkups and sick visits.  By their third year, we are having lively discussions about many of the complex problems our patients encounter.

It seems like yesterday that I was in their shoes in my own medical education.  I still correspond with a professor  from med school who had a big influence on my career.   When I showed up for my cardiology rotation as a fourth year medical student, I immediately knew that the chemistry between myself and this professor was strong.  Early every morning we met in the cafeteria to chat about the patient care duties we had that day.   Morning was full of rounds and procedures all over the hospital.  Lunchtime we spent analyzing EKG’s both new and old, and he would patiently teach me some of the nuances of electro-cardiology or heart sounds.  In the afternoon we would often do procedures and see outpatients.  I knew that I was getting something special from my teacher.  When I first started my clinical rotation, I couldn’t hook up the leads for an EKG, but, by the time I finished, I was diagnosing complex heart rhythms.  Amazing–he was teaching me the secrets to mastering medicine.

I strive to provide the same kind of high quality learning experiences for the students I mentor.  Currently I am paired with my sixth resident, Dr. Melissa Taylor, who is in the third year of her program.  Dr. Taylor is already an excellent pediatrician, and I have no doubt that she will take good care of the next generation of children.  Last week, she and I were reviewing topics that we need to discuss before she completes her program next June.  While I was adding things that I want to make sure we cover before she leaves, she turned to me and said, “ Don’t worry, you have already taught me so much!”  Those few words made my day.  Maybe I have had the kind of influence on her that my cardiology professor had on me?  Could it be? I sure hope so.

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