Community Based Experience

I’ve been meaning to write about my first CBE experience ever since it happened–gotta make more time for this thing. Community-based experience is the department’s fancy way of saying they will throw us into a doctor’s office to get firsthand experience with patients, starting with observation and slowly taking further steps like taking blood pressures and temperatures. Well, observation was how it was supposed to work… except on my first CBE day, on the seventh day of medical school, I found myself alone with a patient taking a history and asking this stranger to trust me with this badge around my neck that I was honestly who I said I was, getting confidential information that I would be using to help me in medical training to one day be a physician. It really does blow my mind how easily people will trust you in a doctor’s office, especially when it comes to invasive procedures that patients don’t mind you observing because, well, you have to learn somehow. Thank God for the good grace of these patients, honestly.

Despite asserting quite strongly that we hadn’t been taught anything in class yet, and that our history taking session would be taking place later this week, my preceptor pretty much insisting that me and my classmate try taking histories ourselves. Let me tell you, that was nerve-wracking, because I felt completely unprepared doing something I hadn’t been specifically trained for. But now that I think about it, I’m glad he made us, and I’m glad I’m breaking out of that shell of thinking that I’ll be trained in everything I will ever encounter. Because that’s just stupid–in medicine and in life. If medical TV shows have taught me anything, it’s that the most growth in a person occurs when they’re facing something they’ve never faced before. Sure, that’s probably because script-writers realise their ratings will decline if they keep reusing DDx ideas, but we all know there’s some truth there too.

And really, how bad of a job can you do when all you’re doing is asking questions? I definitely didn’t do as thorough as a job as I could have (now after actually attending that history taking class), and yeah, I definitely shouldn’t have asked that divorced woman if she was married when I could have just asked if she was living with someone, but now I know. And the best part of knowing this is that it’s one thing I did on my own, before most of my classmates, before even being taught how.


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