Building blocks

I remember an education major telling me, ten or so years ago, about some findings on student learning. If I recall (and probably grossly oversimplify): people learn a subject best when taught exclusively for a shorter duration, rather than drawn out and interspersed with other material.

In other words, the traditional college semester is less effective than, say, the approach employed by residents and clinical med students. Four or five classes spanning months is less effective than sequential one-month blocks of material.

That seems right to me. I don't think I'd ever get comfortable prescribing seizure meds, for instance, if my neuro block was also spent covering colon cancer and pregnancy.

Granted, this is all for the convenience of the teachers -- college professors couldn't sustain their careers (or their minds) teaching the same material every month, full-time. And hospitals couldn't staff the floors without a new supply of full-time students and residents.

Whatever the source of the arrangement, I'm mostly glad for it. The constant variety is nice, and the prospect of "revisiting" each specialty down the road, and brushing up on those skills, is comforting.

Right now, however, I'm glad to be starting my second consecutive month of Emergency Medicine. It's a different hospital -- a different state -- but the first time in a while that I haven't felt like a fish out of water. After spending the beginning of each rotation frantically trying to figure out how to function, I've been hitting my stride in the past few weeks. I want to continue operating at a level a little bit higher than 'newbie' -- for just a while longer.