Hindsight, Foresight and why I suck at school...

I'm looking back upon my last academic semester and I am not pleased. I felt that the entire semester was a struggle to keep up. I finished with 4 B's and and A. I passed, yes. Where I feel I did poorly is that I did not finish with the level of understanding I should have had.

Cardiology, for example: I'm still don't have a clear grasp of how the drugs we administer for cardiac emergencies work. That is to say, I don't understand them enough to be able to figure out which one goes for which arrhythmia. I only know them from rote memorization and some great memorization tricks. I ended the semester feeling lucky that I passed rather than feeling that I passed because I learned what I was supposed to.

In a field where knowledge and understanding affect other's lives, I'm shaken to realize that I may care for patients based on rote memorization. Is that fair to the people I treat?

I have felt that I've spent the entire semester trying to keep up with what I have to know to pass the tests and not spending any time learning the material. Miserable, I know. College is supposed to be a time where I'm full of excitement and wonder at all the cool things I'm learning. I've experienced that in the previous semesters. I know how to enjoy the wonder of learning and still have the discipline to get my assignments turned in on time. I'm an adult. That's what I do.

I know, I know. I've had some "acceptable" distractions: Non-stop school since last January, soon-to-be-adopted twins, dead soon-to-be-adopted twins, my uncle dies, my beloved mother-in-law dies and I moved twice.

It's enough to make Socrates stop asking questions! I know!

It is not an excuse. I HATE excuses.

All this self-recrimination aside, what I really need to look at is my attitude towards learning. In the 13 years between the first and second semesters of my Freshman year, I attended a lot of classes. These were classes that were given on a work related basis. Military training, law enforcement academy, technical schools, and much more. They were all driven by learning a bunch of specific, ordered objectives and were easy to map out. I had a clear list of what I was expected to regurgitate or know and I performed within those parameters in order to pass the course. Not a whole lot of actual thinking was required

Often times, the real learning did not occur until I went out to apply those skills in "the world." Working with another officer, another engineer, another crewman (or woman) gave me the necessary experience to apply what I had learned and give me the opportunity to screw up without causing too much harm.

I'm sure there are those of you out there who have met 'Medics who don't think too much and do everything by rote. That is, most emphatically, not my goal. I can be a basic EMT and do everything that way but I want to be a Paramedic. The more I learn about this profession, the more I learn that I must be thinking, diagnosing and analyzing, all the time. I must take nothing for granted and always be ready to change.

Therein lies the fear from my last semester. I fear I haven't learned enough. I've passed the tests but, standing next to my classmates, I feel profoundly stupid.

Well, I'm a "can-do" kind of person. I would not be me if I wasn't thinking of how to fix this problem. Here's my approach: I will take advantage of the next 4 weeks of break to enjoy the "learning" part that I missed last semester. I'll throw myself into the world of cardiology, pharmacology and more with the enthusiasm of a true maven. In the next (Spring) semester, I resolve to enjoy and learn. I will not bog myself down with the worries of trying to meet specific criteria. They'll come easily if I know the material. I'll know the material if I'm enthusiastic about it and, finally, I'll be enthusiastic about it if I take the time to enjoy it.

Lao Tzu talks a lot about the "Art of Non-doing." Now, I'm no ancient sage but it sounds good to me. I'll just do my best to emulate my "Study Monkey":

I love that smile!!


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