Studying on vacation: pro vs. student


I over-prepped for the test

My performance was one of my best

The time that I took

Inspecting my book.

On vacation, but I’ve still time to rest.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. A winter in Nome, Alaska, assignments in rural Iowa, a summer with a bike tour in Michigan, and Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania stretched into the fall. Since last winter I’ve worked in Alaska and western Nebraska, and taken time to deal with my wife’s (benign) brain tumor. After a moose hunt in Canada, I am back on the job in western Iowa. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

Frequently I do physical exams on late adolescents about to go off to college. The exam itself exists only because of bureaucratic dogma and tradition; we have no evidence to show it does any good.  Nonetheless I use the opportunity to give advice.  I’ve had 27 years of formal education, I tell them, listen to what I’ve learned.

Set two alarms. The first one tells you when to get up and get going, the second one tells you when to stop studying and socialize.

Don’t try to get your work done before you get to bed; you’ll learn twice as much if you study when rested.

Think twice about taking that second drink; you’ll be worthless in the morning.

And don’t take your books with you on vacation. You won’t open them, but their presence will ruin your relaxation.

Because I always brought my books with me for winter break, and I never studied.

But this time, headed east for the opening of the Prolonged Feasting Season, I didn’t take my own good advice. I brought with me my Neonatal Resuscitation Program book and my computer, and I faced a deadline.  My certification ran out today, and I needed that certification to continue employment in a number of venues.

Yes, I had prepped about 8 hours last week, but I hadn’t gotten the whole thing done. And today I conscientiously went through the book the second time, and sat down for the online test.  All in all, I put about 12 hours into the course.

I admit I over-studied. I missed 3 questions out of a hundred, and by lunch time I had my certificate.  I have yet to take the hands-on portion of the course.

All those years of school, the hundreds of tests, the tens of thousands of hours of homework, just prepared me for being a doctor. I always have more homework; I always have another test to take.  The stuff in high school and college was just warm up, they gave me the skills I need to do my profession. Because I will never have acquired enough data: when I worked in Pennsylvania I had to learn about Lyme disease and poison ivy; when I worked in western Alaska I had to learn about botulism.

Every year since 1982 I’ve gotten more than 200 hours of Continuing Medical Education, about the equivalent of a college semester.

Yes, this time I brought my homework with me. But I won’t let it ruin my Thanksgiving vacation.  I got the task accomplished and I’m going to relax.  Till Monday.

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