Learning by Repetition: The Beauty of Technology
This post originally appeared on PRSonally Speaking, a blog for the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, on December 19, 2011, as written by Dr. Anureet Bajaj.
Recently, I commented on how wonderful it was to have PRS on the iPad. Well, I will say it again!
Usually, I have to wait several weeks to get my new issue of PRS; this month, the December issue magically appeared on iPad – before Thanksgiving. The CME article in this issue is on face lifts, and the timing couldn’t have been better because I had a facelift scheduled for the next day.
Many of us periodically review our results – by being critical, we can try to improve and learn from our patients. In training, this process is continual and mandatory; once in practice, we have to make a conscious effort to improve and maintain quality.
I’m in the middle of upgrading and updating my website so I have been reviewing all of my before and after photos. During this process, I am discovering my strengths and weaknesses as a surgeon; and I have become dissatisfied with the long-term results of my face lifts – I wanted to get better.
I remembered that during residency, I had been focused on learning the techniques used by my attendings; in early practice, I don’t’ think that I had the volume to start perfecting my techniques; as I have matured and as my practice matures, I strive to improve and determine which techniques work best in my hands on which patients.
Each surgeon will mature at a different rate, and it may vary for each type of procedure. So for me, the time for facelifts has been during the past three months when I seem to have had a string of them. Doing several has allowed me to read continually – and I learn by reading everything in sight about a particular topic – on a recent ASPS conference call, one well-known plastic surgeon said that “repetition is the key to adult learning.”
I completely agree, but we also need repetition using multiple modalities – auditory, visual, and written. Prior to the computer age, we could only read books or articles and look at pictures – I remember spending hours drawing out my surgeries in my sketchbook so that I could translate the words to a visual image. Now we can watch surgeries or anatomical dissections and listen to lectures without leaving our homes.
This article was great in helping me to summarize different facelifting techniques and reviewing the anatomical issues involved – more repetition so that I could consolidate my own approach. The videos were also instantly accessible on my iPad – another wonder of technology. Even my father was impressed when I showed him – no more needing to find DVDs and a computer to review a surgery or dissection.
But back to face lifts….I read the article, watched the videos, and did more research with in depth articles and textbooks – rereading some old ones and adding new ones to my collection — and did my surgery. The fact is that I do learn by repetition and multiple modalities – a typical product of my generation. Thus far, I am happier with my results, and look forward to further exploring my new educational options online.