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Walking the WOC

Posted Sep 13 2008 11:43pm

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.

Click here to read the rest of this post.
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