Gary's new website

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Medical students feel unready to practise safely

" Senior medical students lack confidence in their abilities and some believe they have insufficient knowledge to practise safely, a survey shows.
The survey, published in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal, found that just over half of fourth and fifth-year Auckland University students questioned had doubts about their level of knowledge.
Only one-third of the 156 students surveyed felt their knowledge of anatomy was sufficient to practise safely and fewer than 20 per cent felt they knew enough about pharmacology."

Gary Moller comments:
As per usual, I have a different take on this "disturbing" study: This is very good news. If the level of confidence was higher, I would be really worried. A doctor never knows everything, skills as routine as listeningto a phlemy chest take years to perfect and it is probably not until 10 or so years of full-time practice that one can be confident that a medical practitioner is really hitting his or her straps.The worst person a patient can encounter, next to a doddery old fool who has not kept up with the play, is a young graduate who thinks he or she knows everything from Day One.

Fortunately, nowadays, the vast majority of medical graduates are in some kind of supervised setup and this includes the inexperienced general practitioner who was often quite isolated from immediate professional support. All but a few General Practitioners now work in group practices.Medical and drugs mistakes kill at least 3,000 New Zealanders per year. Many more survive; but must live with the ongoing consequences. Don't be one of them. Don't be an unwitting medical experiment:
  • Always seek treatment by a doctor with 10 or more years experience See a doctor with training in your area of need: If you have a knee injury, don't go to a doctor who is interested in gynaecology; see a doctor with post-graduate training in sports medicine
  • Stay away from hospital emergency rooms if you can - the lengthy wait is not healthy and the odds are you will encounter a trainee doctor when you are eventually seen to.
    • If you are sure the problem can wait, then do so and go see your regular doctor at the earliest you can get in.
    • Not sure about waiting? then ring your doctor and seek his or her advice. Ring even if its after hours, you will get the after hours duty doctor.
  • If your inner voice is expressing doubts about the diagnosis or the course of treatment, do not hesitate to ask for a second opinion before proceeding.
  • If the need for treatment is not urgent; always ask about alternatives, like waiting a while, or alternative therapies like exercise, nutrition, massage, or even a relaxing holiday on a sunny tropical atoll.

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