On tuesday at clinic my consultant looked me in the eyes and told me: "No matter how smart you are, in order to be a successful doctor, you must have common sense." Since then, I can't stop thinking about what he said.
So I've started revision for my December exams and as I'm studying up on management and treatments of conditions, "common sense" suddenly pops up. I realized I can know nothing about the disease, but if I know the symptoms from a history and use common sense - I can figure out how to manage a patient and treat. What my consultant told me on tuesday was really starting to click.
Clinical years of medicine is all about logic and common sense. A person can study all they want and flip through every textbook and know everything, but without common sense: they won't know how to apply their knowledge. It's all about going back to basics. Picking out key bits in a patient history and focusing on it. Unfortunately, in pre-clinical years of medical school - students tend to forget what is common sense. 2 years of pre-clinical almost trains your brain to just retain information and splurge at exams. Because questions in exams are structured in such a detailed manner such as where cells of something is asked - common sense can't really be used. It's either you know the answer or you don't. It's that straight forward. Now in clinical years, you can work your way through a history and physical examination. It's really difficult to describe but in high pressure situations, you got to stop, relax, and think. Think basic and work through all the clues and start piecing the puzzle. Lots of people have the tendency to just jump to the most ridiculous diagnosis as they panic and don't think how one symptom can lead to a sign.
It sounds easy, but as a medical student it is difficult to remember to just use common sense. 2 years of pre-clinical medical sciences in our brains - we can't help but panic and just dig/try to remember information/answers that we crammed for exams. There were times where I would get put on the spot with a question and I would panic. My consultant had told me off a few times for blanking out as all I need to do is just stop trying to dig for an answer but instead work it out. I guess the closest thing I can relate it to is that in maths we learned 2 + 2 = 4. By now we've all memorized it - don't put any thought into it whatsoever. It's kinda like that in medicine. We see 2 + 2 = 4 (symptom + symptom = disease x) - easy. Sometimes we don't know the answer so when we get 1238 + 236, we will panic. Our brains will go "I haven't memorized this!". Instead break it down and try and link them together to come to your answer.
Anyways I hope that made sense. But only now, after 2.5 years - it has clicked. Medicine is all about common sense. We can't memorize everything. At the end of the day we'll need to use our brain to solve/work out things. It won't all be 2 + 2. But as we encounter more problems, we learn more. The beauty of medicine - never ending knowledge.