Below are the episode show notes and transcript. Some episode transcripts have been edited more than others, but they are up in the meantime to help those who would rather read and for searchability on the web. Extensive editing has not been prioritized as I seek to both produce regular content and maintain my own wellness. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Curiosity and learning. Understanding how things work in medicine and in your hobbies. The mechanisms, the why behind how things work.

See how learning can impact your wellness personally and professionally, and take your next step forward today!

Today’s Sponsor: White Coat Investor courses – Looking for a course with lectures and CME around financial literacy and wellness? Check out a course today. Click Here


Well, how does that work? Or that? I’m sure there’s a good explanation for why this process ended up like that. Even if it doesn’t make sense at first, see how staying committed to learning can help you both in medicine and in your personal life. Stick around for the rest of today’s episode. Welcome to the med ed well podcast where physicians get empowered to take the next step in their wellness, personally, professionally and financially. I’m your host, Dr. Ryan Stegink, a practicing general pediatrician and online entrepreneur. Thank you so much for joining me here on another episode of the MedEdWell podcast, we’re already to episode 12, it’s been quite the journey. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to communicate with each of you hand by listening, you join a movement that’s supporting wellness for physicians covering personal professional and financial topics here on the MedEdWell podcast.

There are both inward and outward aspects of this. Some of the inward things being mindset and priorities with some of the outward aspects of it being planning and action today, we’re starting a two part series on learning. And today it’s going to be about three domains where you need to prioritize it. Then in the second part, we’ll talk about how learning must lead to action. Speaking of learning, let’s hear from today’s sponsor. Getting financial education seems daunting until you realize that you did way harder things in medical training, the white coat investor has been promoting financial literacy for doctors since 2011 and has great courses to help you make a financial plan, evaluate financial advice and pursue your wellness. CME is included on some of the courses, making them a perfect fit for those unused professional funds. I have personally taken the fire, your financial advisor course and found it super valuable in my own financial education.

I encourage you to visit the link in the show notes and consider signing up for a white coat investor course today. Now back to today’s show. So we’re talking about learning. So what does that entail? The first part, we’re going to talk about the “what” of learning, three different domains. The second part, we’re going to talk about “learning for doing”. First, we’ll start in with the story about learning. So for me, growing up, my parents read to me, they got me books. They took me to libraries and museums, and it was a lot of fun. My favorite museum in Chicago was the museum of science and industry. There was so much cool stuff, a coal mine exhibit one about space exploration. But the coolest thing when I was little was a commercial airliner that they landed at the small airport that used to be right on the lakefront and towed it a few miles down the road to the museum.

So my parents helped make learning fun. One summer, maybe after second or third grade, I was doing the summer reading program at the library. The library also worked to make reading fun, but I was a pretty good reader at that point. And my parents knew that I needed a bigger goal. I think it was around a hundred of the short chapter books, but my parents said, if you get to this goal, by the end of the summer, we’ll take you to the bookstore to get a single bigger encyclopedia book on whatever I wanted. I tracked my books diligently and read really enjoying the journey. I made it to my goal. By the end of the summer, my parents were true to their word. I got a few hundred page encyclopedia book with large color photos explaining a bunch of different things. It was super cool.

My parents saw reading and education as something valuable, and this experience helped me to begin to learn the value of learning. So in talking about learning, there are three domains for you to consider and your journey as a physician, first learning about medicine as physicians, it started somewhere back in childhood learning to read, to do math problems, any number of other things over the primary and secondary schooling. But then as you go through college, he gets more medically oriented biology, chemistry, physics, psychology. I personally majored in physics. I had a good teacher in high school and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do physics or medicine at first, but I enjoyed learning about how the world works. So I was a physics major with a pre-med preparation emphasis, eventually some shadowing opportunities in medicine. And my quantum mechanics class helped me see that medicine was a better fit for me.

So learning about medicine, you know, how difficult it was doing first and second year of medical school, how much info you had to take in, maybe you’re in the middle of those years, right now, learning to learn. You have to enjoy learning at least a certain amount to make it through. And you have to optimize how you process things, how you engage with the material. Do you go to class or do you listen to the lectures later? Do you do flashcards or write out notes? What’s your learning style. It doesn’t stop in your clinical years or residency. Even with more application of the knowledge, there’s still learning to be done. You realize all the way, the more, you know, the more, you know, you don’t know. And so, you keep learning, a lot of it. Staying curious, asking good questions, questions of your patients, how are you doing?

What brought you in today? What symptoms are you having? When did they start? There’ll be other questions about various other areas of the medical history and other social drivers of health. Where do you live? How did you get to clinic or the hospital today? Do you ever have trouble paying for food or housing with appropriate opportunities to refer for further follow-up. These can be important opportunities to meet needs and diagnose some of the medical issues. And some of these social drivers that also make a big impact on health. So asking questions, not just of patients, but also of the literature, residency and board certification is not the end of learning. Sometimes the how behind this gets controversial, who says what needs to be covered? How often, how much do you have to pay for it, all those maintenance of certification things. But the point I’m trying to make here is that we have to continue to grow, to learn scientific literature is growing daily and I can’t read it all, but I can read some, I can listen to lecture recordings or conferences, even if many of them are currently virtual, the continued pursuit of learning, and then applying it, whether with your medical knowledge, your emotional intelligence and interviewing skills or something else, this is part of what it means to be a growing physician and person.

So first learning about medicine and your patients, then part of you being a well-rounded person and a physician is about learning something outside of medicine could be a hobby, a side gig, some new exercise class, anything really, but it should be life-giving for me as a child, it was sports and music. I played piano later saxophone and the acoustic guitar. I took lessons on piano. I did my scales, the beginner pieces. I had some different teachers and they gave me some different input. One was an expert, Russian pianist. Another was a music director and primarily an organist, but he still taught some piano as well. But the teacher I had the longest was a really cool guy. He was in a band playing jazz. He taught me both jazz and classical pieces. But the biggest thing that he taught me was how to do chord charts.

That way I could play the melody and fill in the chords and learn some pieces more quickly. This is very common in playing jazz. It helped me be able to pick up the pieces, gave me a better understanding of the theory, underlying the songs. And it helped me expand my repertoire, which was key. When I landed a couple of gigs playing for a couple of holiday house parties, even not playing a whole lot through medical school. I’ve been able to keep those skills and even get to play in a band every couple of months now. So yes, your hobby may look different than mine, but I want to draw out a few principles. First. You got to start somewhere. You’re not going to be very good at first. Start with the basics. Be curious, build on what you’ve learned. You may need lessons or coaching doing it to present something to others.

In my case, performing can be a good motivation. One of my residency preceptors and former colleagues is an accomplished musician who plays cello, went to music camps and even gave a recital. A few years ago, I met patients of hers whose parents had been her patients. And yet she was passionate about both medicine and things outside of medicine, including her music. There should be an element of whatever else you’re learning, being something life-giving or restorative or that you otherwise benefit from. For me, playing music is fun. It uses a different part of my brain, and I can share it with others, which makes me happy. So learning is something ongoing that you need to do inside of medicine and outside of medicine, maybe a hobby or some activity you enjoy. But the final point about learning is how you dig into how things work. This goes with our discussions about curiosity, getting into the mechanisms, the why, the details, it’s the curiosity, and getting to know your staff, what their history is, what things have shaped them. Like we talked about in episode 11, it’s digging into the pathophysiology and the physics of why inadequate surfactant production in premature babies increases the surface tension on their alveoli and makes ventilation difficult. It’s asking good questions of your patients. It’s understanding flow and systems in your clinic, your healthcare system, by knowing how things work, you can probe the different areas you think might offer the most opportunities for targeted intervention.

Those building blocks and understanding of different process. Eventually get to be used somewhere. I still remember my organic chemistry class in college, where my professor had a quiz every week or two with a starting molecule, a final product and a bunch of intermediate blank boxes and arrows. You had to know your reactions, what they would do and how to go from point a to point J. It took a lot of creativity and you had to really know what you were doing. I enjoyed the challenge of thinking creatively with constraints, and it really helped me. I regularly got close to the right answer or sometimes even got it exactly. But even when I didn’t get it, the mental struggle of trying to put things together was quite satisfying. So for you, how do you need to apply yourself to learn more today? Not in the check, the box kind of way, but in the understand how something works more deeply kind of way.

How does your mindset need to shift around this to understanding principles and building blocks to help you with your practice or your hobby? And then what would that look like? Would you take time to read more deeply? Would you quiz yourself and generate questions rather than just underlying a text? Would you get a coach or a tutor? Would you be able to share about what you’ve learned in a different way? How would that impact your wellness personally and professionally take time to think about that today? How things could be different for you and come back next episode for the importance of learning and then taking action. You’re looking for a course with possible CME, check out a white coat investor course at the link in the show notes, but please take time to subscribe to the podcast and share with a friend. If this has been valuable to you, consider how you need to shift your mindset around learning. And I look forward to having you back for another episode of the MedEdWell podcast. Have a great day.