Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Having a (newish) daughter-in-law who's in the medical line of business (she's a Physician's Assistant) I'm a little more aware of the wider world of medicine than I was when I was purely a patient.  Not that I've been a patient very often - at least as far as being in hospital is concerned.  I've only ever stayed in hospital twice in my life, once when I was 21 and once in 2009, by which time I was 64.  

And my daughter-in-law now has some very funny stories to tell about medical experiences - although when she tells them they seem much funnier than when I try to repeat them.  We were on Skype to her and my son yesterday (they're in the States) and she was telling us about how she was treating a Spanish patient in the ED where she works.  He spoke no English, so there was a translator involved as well.   My daughter-in-law had hiccups while she was examining and questioning the man, and suddenly he said something in Spanish and then went BOH! at her.   She was a little puzzled, especially when he did the same thing again.  Finally it was explained: he was doing to her what he would do to a child who had hiccups: giving her a fright.

This isn't the sort of thing you're likely to learn in medical school, and it's probably not something you'd use very often.   And I'm not sure if my daughter-in-law wants to go learning anything more at the moment: she's been studying for what seems like forever, and has some student debt to catch up on.  

However, for those who feel the need to catch up on some extra credits, or to upskill, there are a variety of courses available, courses that once upon a time wouldn't have been dreamed of: it was assumed that when a doctor was trained, that was it.  But these days there's a sense that a doctor's training needs to keep going, and not just in catching up with the latest developments in medicine.  Consequently there are all sorts of courses available, such as a medical teaching course or a medical management course.  These are especially useful for those who already do some training of other staff themselves, and who need to make sure they have the requisite skills.  It's a bit like the assessments students do of their lecturers; if the latter don't come up to scratch, then some updating of their teaching skills may be necessary.  Not every University- trained person automatically makes a good teacher.   In the medical field you can even attend a teach the teacher course (I sometimes think some school teachers and lecturers could do with something similar!)  And if you're in the administrative department of a hospital you might even attend a consultant interview course.

Of course, you might not want to keep attending courses!  Fitting these into an already busy medical life may be something you'd want to put off.  However, from my experience as a patient, I can assure you that the more informed the medical staff are the better.  For some doctors a 'treating the patient as a human being' course would be a good option.  I note that this kind of thing is now being included in the six-year course that doctors go through.  Thank goodness!

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