Learn by experience (not just lecture!)

January 5, 2012

I came to medical school ready and excited to learn.  I felt that the knowledge was right there for the taking – I just had to go to lecture, listen, read, and the learning would happen.  However, while slogging through the dense biochemistry pathways and memorizing the names of all the muscles in the hand, I began to get the sense that there was more to learning than effort and following the rules.  It was not until I was well into my clinical rotations that I was able to truly appreciate that much of learning happens through experience.  I don’t remember the Raf/MEK pathway, but I can tell you the possible reasons why a 24 year old man may have liver failure – I had to figure out the answer to that question in order to help a patient.

As I’ve gone through residency and fellowship training, the notion that you have to create an experience in order to learn something has become more and more entrenched in my thinking about education.  That sounds nice, but how does one actually create these experiences?

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