Life Long Learning Starts with A Teacher

By: Dudley Phipps, PA-C, CCD, FLS

I’ve spent several hours in the last week with my 14-year-old granddaughter.  She’s learning to drive.  Oh boy, what an experience!   I’m not sure how I got this job, but you won’t hear me complain.  It’s easy to forget when you start driving, there’s a huge change from sitting in the passenger seat to sitting in the drivers’ seat.  How to turn, brake, accelerate, park.  How to be in traffic, have good manners on the road, even something as simple as pumping gas is new.

Sitting there watching her wide-eyed, as excited as can be, brings back so many memories.  I taught her mom, her uncle and aunt, as well as her older sister.  Seems I just don’t get as rattled as some of the others in my family.  Last night, my oldest granddaughter took her first “solo” drive home after the school dance with her new school permit.  It’s only about a 5-minute trip, but she thought she had won the lottery!  What I find most amazing is the difference between the two of them, a combination of nature and nurture if you will.  And it is humbling for me to realize how much the older one has matured in the last couple of years.  Yes, I’m the proud dad and grandpa, but enough sounding like I’m coming back from your black and white TV circa 1971 from Walton’s Mountain.

I heard an NCAA basketball player interview, they reflected that the “game slows down” when they’re in the grove.  Personally, I’ve come a long way since I started as a paramedic nearly 40 years ago.  Even further as a PA in the last 16 years.  You start to realize that the subtle things in your environment and surroundings do not go unnoticed as often.  The inflections in your patient’s voice that lead to another question, solidifying that difficult diagnosis.  The observation that they’ve got the same tattered shoes that they had on the last visit months ago, which may be a clue to their noncompliance with treatment.

There’s a multitude of nuance in the art of medicine.  I believe it makes the difference between a good clinician and a great clinician.  The ability to capture the nuances or “make the game slow down” takes time.  Depending on the source, I’ve read anywhere from 5 to 15 years depending on your profession.  But as you travel that path, you start to notice more along the way.  Your other senses become more honed, observations become richer, questions become more meaningful and the practice of medicine starts to become the art of medicine.

It’s important as both a clinician and human to not only reflect from time to time but to continue honing your skillset.  My goal for this session at GAPA, help make the “game go slower”, allowing you to catch more of the nuance in your patient encounters.  With that, you can continue to move into the art of medicine.

See you in July!



You can see Dudley Phipps, PA-C, CCD, FLS speak at the GAPA 2019 Summer Conference in Hilton Head Island, SC.

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