Firstly, to you and everyone else who have been submitting questions, I am sorry for the late reply.
The circumstances surrounding my plans to pursue medicine are complicated. However, if I could go back and give myself advice in a different life, I would advise taking my time. One of my biggest regrets has always been coming into medicine young. I feel that I could have benefitted from a year or two of life experience: working, volunteering, exploring, travelling etc.
The secret to being a great candidate is not how much time you invested in research, how many doctors you shadowed, or how stellar your grades were. The secret to being a great candidate doctor is being a well-rounded, honest, dependable, and kind person. Where medical knowledge can always be taught in school, these qualities that ultimately define you as a candidate are developed through the experiences you have gained in your life.
The rise of technology comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
As a whole, the use of more and more technology in medicine has helped facilitate many breakthroughs and streamline the care we provide. The near-instantaneous feedback of diagnostics and interventions in the past 20-30 years has pushed us further into the Star Trek vision of medicine than ever before. The fact that I can perform a scan of your body, look inside, decide a course of action, and quickly research it on my phone or tablet within the same hour is unprecedented and it is only going to continue forward at warp speed.
With all of those advances, it certainly has helped bring medicine into the information technology age in full force. A lot of our practice can now theoretically be done on a computer. Having said that, the gains you make with technology is only as great as the infrastructure and the people manning it.
At this current point of medicine, the transition to higher technologies has been a painful one. Different health authorities use different electronic medical record systems (EMRs) that do not communicate with each other. Not everything has been digitized, leaving some reports falling through the cracks and back into the paper files. Inadequate server infrastructures threaten to wipe every patient’s slate clean. Some providers, particularly the older generation, are not adept at using higher technologies. The result unfortunately is a system that continues to operate on average at the same speed as it used to with an amount of paper waste that refuses to decrease.
Give it another couple of years, when a new technologically-savvy generation of doctors begin to push to reshape and improve the situation. Already, I have seen great examples of technology facilitating the practice in medicine in what I would consider its prime: automated form letters create tailored letters detailing a patient’s history while all that remains to be written by a physician is the referring question; an entire office of intercommunicating computers pushing data from one machine to the next, legible computer prescriptions digitally faxed from your screen to the pharmacy; continuous and easy access to the world’s foremost journals and references at all times, giving you the best information to make the best decisions.
The future for us is bright; every day we make progress towards it. For now though, we just need to bear through the growing pains.
It depends on how you look at it.
So in Canada, you can apply after your second year of undergraduate studies. The process alone takes an entire year. Therefore, at the earliest, you can begin medical school after three years of undergraduate studies. Combined with a four year medical curriculum, you are looking at seven years minimum.
From my understanding (and thank you to all the readers who responded!) the British system allows application straight from secondary school into a five year medical program. The first two years (ref. medicalwatson) are pre-clinical with interspersed clinical exposure with an emphasis on basic sciences.
At the end of the day, the difference is two years or more depending on your schooling in Canada. The British system is just more streamlined.
I personally am glad about the way everything turned out. I think coming into medicine too young has its disadvantage. You would have less experience to inform you, less equipped to handle the extremes medicine can take you. The added year of maturity and wisdom I think is always a priceless, timeless gift of taking one’s time.
EDIT: Thank you for all of the readers who were kind enough to reply back. My response has been amended to reflect accurate information. For further discussion, please look into the reader replies below!
Hello! Sorry for the late reply.
I have worked with a lot of the different disciplines on numerous occasions and have had great success stories with many of them. Though we all have different areas of practice, we work towards a common goal and that is where our disciplines intersect and overlap. As long as the interdisciplinary staff can be on the same page and on equal footing, the benefits can be greater than the sum of its parts.
I would say that compared to my classmates, I have a tendency to be a slower worker, which is not always a great thing (especially when the day becomes busy). However, I do try to take time to have a good conversation with patients about how they are doing and any concerns or needs they have. A social worker referral is one that I commonly make for issues surrounding finances, supports, and beyond; you would be surprised how easy it can be to elicit these issues if you just show your interest; in general, I find most patients to be quite appreciative of the effort to bridge their transition back into the community or for their outpatient care. Social workers have always been a tremendous help in sorting out and explaining difficult issues that we are not trained to do.
I do not think I have any major guidances on referrals. Often times it relies on using my best judgment. From there, the importance is not to order someone to do something but to ask for their help. Only through that can we build a strong partnership built on trust and understanding.
It has been a while since I have reviewed some of my neurology material but let me try to answer your question as best as I can. To start, I think it is important to talk about the different types of memory we have. Here is a handy little chart.
When we take on new tasks and learn new skills, it typically will require the use of a combination of memory systems. You may have read about how to do something in a manual, talked it through with a teacher, or have to dust off on an old skill you have not used in a while. In these cases, the most crucial part is the focus and attention needed as you proceed through the steps. This is generally a combination of the likes of your frontal cortex and brainstem.
Initially, the events of the new skill are stored as part of your short term memory before eventually being transitioned to your long term memory. With repetition, the interfacing with these memory pathways grows stronger and the recall improves. The sequence of muscle stimulation becomes refined as your memory system deciphers what to do and how to do it. Once skills are learned and perfected, procedural memory takes over through a different pathway that does not need to involve your attention or focus. This is what I remember about muscle memory.