My husband felt ill yesterday so I had to leave the library where I was engrossed in learning all about viruses in order to come home and look after the kids.
I was pretty annoyed about this, although I must stress (before you all gasp in horror at my lack of empathy given my career choice) that it was an inward annoyance and on the surface I was the epitome of compassion!
Anyway I arrived home to childcare duties, all the while worrying about getting behind with my work, when my son asked “can I do learning like you?”
I have had this question before and usually it somehow ends up in a game of trains….
Yesterday however, he meant it. He actually wanted to learn. So we sat at the table and I opened my books to the pictures of viruses and I started to explain in simple terms how viruses cause infection and how T and B cells act to protect us.
“How do they do that?”, he asked. “Do they use guns?” (suddenly he is getting very excited about the prospect of little cells running around his body carrying guns!)
Following this he lasted a good hour, completely engrossed in immunology. We did then play trains, of course…but by that point I wanted a break from work too.
After putting the kids to bed and sitting down to open my books I realised that explaining things in simple terms to my son had been a really great way of consolidating my learning and also reminded me of something that our clinical teachers keep emphasising to us:
*Don’t use medical jargon when talking to patients.*
I have always thought that this isn’t a trap I will ever fall into, I know how to talk to people etc. But the other day I caught myself excitedly using a new term i’d been taught – “prodrome”, when a friend was telling me she had felt tired and had a temperature for a couple of days. I soon laughed at myself when it became obvious that she couldn’t care less what it was called!
And so learning with my son was actually a great way to spend the afternoon and not as annoying as I had initially thought. And if any med students want to borrow him to remember how to explain things without using jargon then please feel free (preferably when I have work to do!)