Amanda Xi, Medical Student, 04:23PM Jul 7, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013 marked the first day of my clinical training. It didn’t feel like a momentous moment at all – instead, it felt like another day in the classroom because the majority of it was filled with administrative information and tasks. But once the afternoon rolled around and I was thrown headfirst into gathering information for a surgical consult, I realized that this patient marked my first unaccompanied clinical encounter. Previously, I had interviewed and performed physical exams on patients under the supervision of a preceptor. The preceptor would watch and listen then provide immediate feedback on how I could improve my technique. But as I entered the patient’s room, there was no guide or crutch to fall back on. This time, I was on my own.
After gathering basic information and performing a brief physical exam, I paged my resident. Once my team arrived, I recited the information I collected. He proceeded to probe for more information. Was she nauseous? Vomiting? Did she notice any mental status changes? As the questions continued to fly, I realized that my history and physical (H&P) was missing very significant pieces of information. For moment, I wondered if I really was ready for the rigors of being on the floors.
As the week progressed, I started to realize that it is equally important to make these types of mistakes and correct them, as it is to study the material on a daily basis. Medical training is structured so that we can identify our shortcomings and address them under the supervision of an experienced medical team. There will be times when I will know the answer or will perform a stellar H&P, but those won’t be the times that I look back upon as learning experiences.