I had a little giggle to myself while charting the notes of a patient with shoulder pain the other day. Specifically, I was thinking of this post of yore, and my belief that I could get by just knowing what anatomy looked like, and not necessarily its various descriptions and qualifiers.
Boy, was I wrong. (And young. And obstinate.)
Back then I thought it was enough to know more or less where organs and muscles were, but not essential to know which arteries and veins accompanied it. (It almost scares me a little that I managed to find my way through med school in this fashion.)
Dear Past Me: This is why you should have paid more attention in anatomy lectures…
- When learning to do C-sections, keeping track of the various layers of the abdomen was the easiest way to keep track of my progress;
- It’s kind of useful to know which structures to avoid when slicing through someone’s skin;
- Knee pain, shoulder pain, any joint pain;
- You save time if you don’t “quickly” have to look up the name of a structure;
- You save time if you can describe something in two words rather than ten;
- Knowing anatomy helps you to put things back where they belong, like putting an abdomen that has been laparotomy-ed back together again;
- Strokes and spinal injuries;
- Interpreting imaging studies;
- Describing what you see to another healthcare worker on the phone;
- Not sounding ridiculous when referring a patient to another clinician;
- And it sometimes even keeps imposter syndrome at bay.
Nowadays, anatomy is actually the one thing I use most to explain things to my patients. Not everybody can or wants to understand science, but everybody has a body, and so often my terrible anatomical sketches become the foundation of explaining their condition to a patient. And my own anatomical knowledge has grown in leaps and bounds, albeit a little later than it should have.
And if you’ve seen my Pinterest boards or – gasp – my tattoo, you’ll know that I quite like anatomy, these days.
Eh, the errors of our youth…