We’ve all been there: the attending is explaining something or is doing a procedure and you want to ask a question. But you don’t know enough about the topic to know whether or not it’s a valid question. So you bite your tongue because you don’t want to appear incompetent in front of everyone else. I think it’s very important to go ahead and ask it. At the very least, it shows everyone that you are engaged and are paying attention to what is going on. More often than not, your question is probably something someone else was wondering as well.
Sometimes your questions don’t even have to be insightful. I’ll admit that I’ve just simply asked, “What’s that?” to a term that I’m unfamiliar with. Usually, the resident or attending are not offended by the question and will take the time to address your question. Obviously, there is a time and place for questions. Let’s be honest here–as a medical student on clinical rotations, you’re there to learn as much as possible. You’re paying for the training. Doctors, residents, nurses and hospital staff are invaluable resources to your education! Ask away!
I’m not saying to just incessantly pose questions to everyone, but I think that if you’re curious about something or you’re unsure about a term, don’t be afraid to ask! Understanding what is going will improve how you view, think and eventually execute patient care. A few insightful questions can really help your end of rotation evaluations as well!