Author Topic: Limits of self-taught medicine?  (Read 11324 times)

Offline AHA

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Limits of self-taught medicine?
« on: November 01, 2009, 09:42:48 AM »
How good can you get as an autodidact? My definition is "someone who didn't go to med school", so you can still go to first aid classes and such and still count as self-taught in my book.

What are some examples of people with a high degree of medical proficiency who are self-taught?

Offline docred

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2009, 12:33:37 PM »
My opinion: I think you need some level of structured training as a foundation. More important than the basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and therapeutics is that having a recognized level of education lets you get some experience. You can read all the books ever made, but you need to see LOTS of cases to develop comfort, judgment and practical skills.

Offline Altered Mental Status

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 09:05:56 PM »
Nothing like seeing someone who is symptomatic of a disease or injury, books just don't do it justice.... ;D

Offline Shiv

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2009, 09:25:31 PM »
Agreed!  Even if it is a 6 month EMT course, it is a great foundation.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2009, 01:57:54 PM »
I'm pre med, and although I could likely treat everyday junk no problem, I defer to the following analogy:

After having spent six months studying the 1911, trigger jobs, parts fitting, etc.,  inside and out, to the point where I was teaching stuff to guys who owned several 1911's and had a bag of parts and a finished slide, and an unfinished frame, and field stripped a buddy's commander model twice, then went to simply replace the hammer in my brand new RIA and it took well over 3 hours, and I almost F'd it up twice, then NOBODY can work on a human body to any degree of proficiency without having done it before or at least observed and assisted.

Simpler terms: There's a bigass difference between reading about someone riding a bike, and actually busting your ass a few times.

Further point: who will stitch YOU up when you have a gash in your shoulder blade or lower back? Or what if you're the only one in your group that knows anything abut brain trauma, and YOU'RE the one that knocked his ass out on a rock at the bottom of the waterfall?

You need training, and redundancy, and then you need practice. Think of it like owning a firearm - if you never shoot it, then when you have to, you won't shoot it very well.

As far as what is adequate, that entirely depends on your objective. I wouldn't want an EMT (with no other training) trying to suture together the blood vessels and nerves in my leg after a chainsaw accident, but I wouldn't exactly want or need a vascular surgeon to treat my concussion, either.

Put together a list of injuries you could sustain over the course of a month. Just sit down at the end of the day and write down the things that could have happened while you were out and about doing your daily grind. At the end of the month, you probbably have a good idea of the things you or a family/group member would have to treat post SHTF. At least you'll have the things that are worth learnign about NOW, since those skills will help you NOW as opposed to JUST learning medical practice for TEOTWAWKI or something. Kinda fits with the site tagline anyhow ;)

Hope that doesn't sound terse, but I'm trying to be quick, direct, and thorough, and polite doesn't quite fit in there.


*hands you a grain of salt*

:-p

Offline Doc K

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2009, 05:07:05 AM »
What are some examples of people with a high degree of medical proficiency who are self-taught?

Unfortunately, I can think of no one with a high degree of medical proficiency who was self-taught.  There are probably some in the distant past who did fairly well without a formal medical degree, but not too many to be memorable.  Even the non-doctor monks in the middle ages were taught their skills by the older monks who in turn learned from the monks before.  AND they all got lots of practice when sick or injured people were brought to them on a regular basis. 

In modern times, it would be almost impossible to get the training and the practice without persuing a formal degree.  Is it necessary to have a slip of paper with a fancy seal on it to learn the information?  Not at all.  But few will have the opportunity to see many sick/injured AND have the mental aptitude AND have the determination to study for enough time (I've trained 11 years to be a licensed physician and I am continuing to learn on a daily basis - and I have so much more to learn - and it's a full time job!) AND the interest to study enough areas of medicine to be "proficient" as you say without being in a degree program.

I think what often happens is a person starts to educate themselves in medicine.  Which is fantastic - they usually make great patients for me! :)  And they either stay content with basic levels of information and maybe some practical skills they can use in an emergency, or they realize how much information is out there and they go after a degree.  The trouble with medical knowledge is that when you don't study it enough, it is easy to think you know it all.  Those are the patients who drive me absolutely crazy.  They read one book, written by a non-physician, and then proceed to "enlighten" me about how the human body works and what I should be prescribing them.  (sorry for the rant  :-\ )  In reality, the more and more I study medicine and the human body, the more and more I am humbled with how much I don't know.  When a physican (or a non-physician who thinks they have it all figured out) looses that humbleness, that fear of not knowing enough, that is when they make mistakes and people are hurt... or worse.

Hope this helps,
Doc K

Offline phargolf

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2009, 05:39:02 PM »
That's not a rant Doc K, that is fact. since i deal in a retail setting, i see hundreds of people every day and like you, I hear the comments of Aunt Sally who had the same thing but the Dr. gave her something else than what i am giving them ( and it goes downhill from there  ;D). Hang in there doc it will only get worse,LOL ;D ;D ;D

Offline DivineMomentsofTruth

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2009, 08:23:57 PM »
Hell Man , even Amazonian shaman become apprentices before practicing thier form of medicine.

tinctures, poltices and the like seems to be along the lines of the "limits" of what I would imagine self-taugh.
surgical procedures are a bit more of a dice roll , other than that of a simple suture.

otherwise , SEEK medical attention  ;D

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2009, 11:03:37 PM »
I realized that my post here and over in the "Homemade Insulin" thread are somewhat diametrically opposed if you fail to have some background information.

I intend to set up a fully functional biochem wet lab. Garage Genetics, if you will.

I can do this because I have a few things.

First, I have a professor friend that has something like 20 years of experience working with the Herpes virus. Growing not only the virus, but the human cells in which to grow the virus.

He's got a sh*t ton of genetics experience, and with the right equipment, within 6 months, I'll be at his level of proficiency in lab practice, and can then go from there to orbit in terms of practical capability.

The idea is to be able to create a library of various genes whereby I can select a culture tube from the freezer, thaw it, culture some bacteria, and hand you a bottle of Insulin, Heparin, or whatever else I want to keep on hand, in a matter of tens of hours or less (depending on say, how much you need, and how prolifically that particular gene is expressed due to promoter selection, etc.)

The reason for this is that I'll need a library of all sorts of genes in order to conduct research into other specific genetic pathways - there are all sorts of things like promoters, proteases, DNases, restriction enzymes, etc. that I will need in order to run the lab. I won't be able to afford them to just mess around with, so 90% of the work for the first 6 months will be developing a library of the genes (contained in cultures of bacteria frozen in a [solar powered] liquid nitrogen cryostat). I've already secured the motherboards and am owed enough of a favor to get a 100-gigaflop linux cluster set up, and I already have a workstation and a file server ready to rock and roll.

I am therefore modifying my statements: it is entirely possible to teach yourself anything, but don't expect to read a book and be able to do it. You have to actually DO it.

Hard work and dedicated, protracted step-by-step progress, combined with some of the prepper skills I have honed over the past three years  are going to supplant, largely, the vast amounts of money that a typical R&D lab would throw at the problem of equipping their toolkit. If you don't go to medical school in order to learn medicine, you have to essentially audit all the medical school classes and/or do the book work yourself and have a group of physicians tutor you and give you the hands on practice you need in order to get to the same skill level. It all depends on whether you have money or time and connections. Luckily I have equal helpings of both, which makes the wheels all that greasier. If I lacked connections this whole thing would be impossible, no matter how much money I had. Think for a moment - I'll be growing bacteria. If I didn't have someone who knew what they were doing, how easy do you think it would be for me to screw up my first batch of transgenic microbes and wind up with Tuberculosis instead of E. Coli with an insulin gene tucked inside it?

Wherever you can, get the proper training. Where you can't, make friends with the people who already have it.

AC

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2010, 01:36:05 PM »

I am therefore modifying my statements: it is entirely possible to teach yourself anything, but don't expect to read a book and be able to do it. You have to actually DO it.
Wherever you can, get the proper training. Where you can't, make friends with the people who already have it.

Boy, do I agree. I'm in the process of becoming an EMT, and hope to become a paramedic. Years ago, one of my first jobs, was an "unpapered" vet tech. I think I absorbed more than I realize, compared to someone who's not seen the stuff I have. In fact if you can't get access to any other kind of training, I'd recommend working with animals even if just as a volunteer.

Offline AHA

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2010, 01:13:18 PM »
Check out the article "Medical Tradecraft: what you need to know to make it or fake it" in Interesting Times issue 4.

Who wants to write part 2 of that? :)

Offline pedsPA

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2010, 03:44:09 PM »
Learning from a book is great, however, once you have foundational knowledge there is no substitute for experience.  It takes looking at a hundred or a thousand normal patients to make it easy to glance a something and know that something is abnormal. And while I'm sure all the medical types here have heard the adage: "See one, do one, teach one" there is certainly something to be said for being able to bounce something off your colleagues.  It is hard to get that from a book.  Just my humble opinion.

Offline templar223

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Re: Limits of self-taught medicine?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2010, 01:30:56 PM »
Learning from a book is great, however, once you have foundational knowledge there is no substitute for experience.  It takes looking at a hundred or a thousand normal patients to make it easy to glance a something and know that something is abnormal. And while I'm sure all the medical types here have heard the adage: "See one, do one, teach one" there is certainly something to be said for being able to bounce something off your colleagues.  It is hard to get that from a book.  Just my humble opinion.

Your humble opinion is spot on.

Learning medicine is to some degree like learning to compete or fight with a gun or a knife. 

Yeah, there are some good books and some good videos, but even a bad class is better than the best video.  There's just no substitute for learning from competent instructors.  And while you can be "self-taught", as likely as not, you're just teaching yourself bad habits.

Basic medical training is low or no cost (see Red Cross for classes).  More intermediate and advanced schooling will cost a few bucks, but it's worth every penny if you're interested in learning the proper way of treating sick or injured people.

John