“Con Ed” — Not the Kind of Energy You’re Thinking!
I always overpack when I travel. And not just by a little. I’m not sure if it’s like a security blanket or that some neurotic psychology lies underneath this issue, but I’m never going to be the girl who shows up for a week’s trip with just a backpack. In fact, a surefire way to get my blood pressure elevated is when the ticket agent weighs my luggage at the airport. My fingers and toes are always crossed that I won’t be over the limit.
So I’m packing today to travel to New Orleans for the Pediatric Urgent Care Conference
where I’ll be leading 2 educational sessions: one on “digital media and medicine” and another on “pediatric red flags that must not be missed” which is aimed at non-pediatric clinicians. I’m really looking forward to the trip other than missing my kids. The weather should be and warm and no doubt the food will be excellent and I will eat a TON of it. The conference topics are practical and interesting and hanging out with my colleagues is always a good time, even if I am CONSISTENTLY the first one to say good night and geek out for an early bedtime. But what I find even more interesting is that when I attend these educational events and lead a lecture or a discussion I often learn as much as those who have signed up as attendees.
And that’s the cool thing about medicine.
The constant learning journey, no matter where you are on your career trajectory.
We all know that advances in medicine happen rapidly and constantly.
As a physician, it can be difficult to keep up with new research in one’s own specialty, let alone in other areas. I found that when I became a doctor I learned to “speak the language” which has set me up fairly well to be able to understand what’s happening in other specialties, even if in practice it’s totally out of my lane. But within my lane, in order to maintain specialty certification, individual boards of medicine (like the American Board of Pediatrics) require that doctors have a certain amount of continuing education documented in a standard period of time. In my mind, this ensures that not only am I keeping up with important facts and best practices in pediatric emergency medicine, but that I’m still practicing being a good learner. Lord knows I spent enough years in training that I’d BETTER be a good learner, but it’s easy to get rusty. Ongoing education is part of a process to make sure that I don’t! There are lots of ways to participate in continuing education — from online teaching modules, to conferences, to specific group courses targeted at a particular topic. Sometimes it’s nice to do a little of each.
In my humble opinion, being a good learner doesn’t mean that you are the smartest, or that you pick up new topics the fastest, or that you can ace a standardized test. What it DOES mean is that you are open and interested in engaging your mind in new concepts, reflecting on ideas, critically thinking about old practices and analyzing new ones. In this way, I can attend an educational session on something about which I already know the factual content and yet come away with having looked at it in a new way to enhance my own understanding. The reflection piece is critical as it integrates the experience and knowledge that I bring to the topic beforehand with anything new and different that I pick up DURING the learning event. It’s interesting and stimulating, and happens all the time in medicine: whether it’s at a formal educational conference or a simple conversation between two colleagues.
So while I’m technically on the faculty of this Pediatric Urgent Care Conference, I can tell you right now that I’m going to be one of the students as well.
The very thought of this idea is like a breath of fresh air when I consider what I like about my job. It’s always changing and different, and I never get the same day twice. This keeps my learning curve at its steepest, and my mind as sharp as it can be. The word “boring” doesn’t come up much. Not a bad work perk, huh?
I’d be remiss if I left out the fact that at this particular conference one of the keynote speakers is none other than my very own DAD! He’s a cool guy and a pretty big thinker in medicine and he’s going to deliver his thoughts about where healthcare is headed in the current unusual environment. Should be good. Plus we’ll have a fun dinner out together… pictures to follow.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit on my suitcase to try to zipper it closed.