Differential Diagnosis - How do I study for it?

akflightmedic

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It mans "yet to be discovered", ancient paramedic saying.
 

Carlos Danger

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Surely there is something to gain by practicing and learning new things now? I learned about the different types of body tissues (epithelial, connective, nervous, muscle) and the different types within those types (e.g. there is areolar, adipose, fibrous, cartilage, bone, blood, hemopoetic connective tissue). Why would this not be of benefit to me?
I definitely appreciate your enthusiasm and motivation, and I would suspect most others here do as well.

That said, you are putting the cart WAY before the horse here. There really isn't a lot of differential formulation at the EMT level, and that which there is will make much more sense once you start practicing assessments in class.

From the sounds of it you are a smart person who will have no problem whatsoever keeping up in class and doing very well. There is no reason to try to learn the entire curriculum before the course even begins. Trust me when I tell you that you are beyond the point of diminishing returns with your efforts to get a head start.
 
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WannebeParamedic

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From the sounds of it you are a smart person who will have no problem whatsoever keeping up in class and doing very well.

Thanks, that is very kind of you to say and I appreciate it.

I am not a very academic person and I struggle in formal education settings (not speculation - I have the academic transcript to prove it). It is likely that when my course starts I will struggle a lot with procrastination. I tend to handle stress quite well in most situations but i'm guessing this could be a cause of procrastination?

As an example, I am currently learning how to read an ECG. It was quite tough at first but my assumption is that because I don't have the added (hidden) stress of being on a course with time constraints, it was not a big deal for me to take things one step at a time. On a course, this is a lot harder because it does not feel like you can afford to take things slow. So as soon as you hit a speed bump, it can be very off putting.

It has actually only taken me about 2-3 days to finally get the hang of reading an ECG. I am confident that I would have just stopped studying at this point if I was under the time constraints of the actual course. I may not have resumed study for many weeks.

This is a big reason why I am trying to learn as much as I can before the course starts.

There really isn't a lot of differential formulation at the EMT level...

That is actually a huge relief. I am actually starting to relax a bit about it now.
 

NomadicMedic

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I’d say, without question, you’re studying the wrong things. ECG interpretation is not something you need when preparing for EMT.

EMT is an entry level class. One step above basic first aid. Like learning how to be the guy that empties the trash at McDobalds. You’re still too new to even think about making fries or burgers.

if you’re a poor student, as you stated above, you should focus your time on learning study techniques and habits to make your journey easier. If you really insist on getting a head start, focus your time and energy on fully knowing high school
level anatomy and physiology, with a concentration on identifying organ system and function and completely understanding gas exchange and the importance it plays.
Medical terms are also important. Take an online class.

You seem to be missing the point that you’re attacking the quest for knowledge in a way that will make it more difficult to learn. Think of it this way, you’re a new driver that has never driven a car, yet you’re taking classes in advanced racing techniques.

I don’t know why I’m wasting my time writing this, however. You seem to only be interred in bragging about how much you know already and how you can practice OPQRST as it relates to snakes.
 
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WannebeParamedic

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ECG interpretation is not something you need when preparing for EMT.

I did not know that. I thought I was following the advice of the people on this forum to focus on cardiovascular/respiratory/nervous system. It is not something I particularly wanted to learn.

knowing high school level anatomy and physiology, with a concentration on identifying organ system and function and completely understanding gas exchange and the importance it plays.

I thought that is what I had started to do with the heart. I did not seek to learn ECG. It was just what came next after learning basic heart anatomy. I interpreted this to be learning about heart physiology.

I don’t know why I’m wasting my time writing this, however. You seem to only be interred in bragging about how much you know already and how you can practice OPQRST as it relates to snakes.

I thought it was coming across this way. I'm sorry it appears that way. I am more confused then anything. I was not trying to brag, I had initially stated that I had learned anatomy and physiology but a lot of the advice coming back to me was telling me to learn anatomy and physiology. This can be frustrating if you have already done this. So I was trying to show people that I knew the basics so I could get some additional advice on where to go next.

You have just told me that I don't need to learn ECG interpretation and I suspect from your position what you have told me makes sense and I should know exactly what to do next. But I don't know what you are telling me to learn next? ECG seemed to be focusing on the physiology of the heart. I thought this was exactly where this forum was directing me and to abandon snakebites/digestive system for now.

I had stopped learning about medical conditions based on the advice (or my interpretation of the advice I learned here).

Medical terms are also important. Take an online class.

Okay, I will give that a go.

completely understanding gas exchange and the importance it plays.

See this is hard for me (and it was why you might have perceived I am bragging). I wrote a post where I demonstrated an understanding of gas exchange and you have told me to completely understand it. But there is nothing online that provides any additional information (that I can find) above what I have already learned unless I study to a more advanced level.

Surely you can see the difficulty from my perspective in understanding what you mean. I was trying to show the level of knowledge I already had so I can be better directed.

I have limited resources to go off. I don't have access to the curriculum or course material yet so I have to make do with what is online.

In any case, I assure you that no-one has wasted their time in giving me advice. I am following it as best as I can - although there will be some wrong turns along the way.
 

VentMonkey

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@WannebeParamedic where in the world are you located?

Something tells me us U.S. folks may be missing the mark if you’re not on this side of The Pond.

This is also why I wished more people took advantage of the introductory thread.

Apples and oranges when comparing U.S. prehospital care and training to the rest of the world.
 
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Carlos Danger

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Thanks, that is very kind of you to say and I appreciate it.

I am not a very academic person and I struggle in formal education settings (not speculation - I have the academic transcript to prove it). It is likely that when my course starts I will struggle a lot with procrastination. I tend to handle stress quite well in most situations but i'm guessing this could be a cause of procrastination?

As an example, I am currently learning how to read an ECG. It was quite tough at first but my assumption is that because I don't have the added (hidden) stress of being on a course with time constraints, it was not a big deal for me to take things one step at a time. On a course, this is a lot harder because it does not feel like you can afford to take things slow. So as soon as you hit a speed bump, it can be very off putting.

It has actually only taken me about 2-3 days to finally get the hang of reading an ECG. I am confident that I would have just stopped studying at this point if I was under the time constraints of the actual course. I may not have resumed study for many weeks.

This is a big reason why I am trying to learn as much as I can before the course starts.
I can personally identify with a lot of what you wrote above. I have never been a strong academic and always found all levels of formal education unduly stressful and procrastination-inducing, despite otherwise being a pretty bright and generally motivated guy. So I get where you are coming from when you say you just want to get a good head start in order to reduce the workload and stress.

However, as @NomadicMedic pointed out a couple posts up, EMT is an entry-level course. The texts are written at about a 10th grade reading level. The entire curriculum presumes that you have no medical knowledge at all. It is a fairly large volume of information, but it is mostly learning processes and an approach to sick people. There are a handful of skills to master and things to memorize. None of it is difficult at all, and you will get lots of practice with all of it.

As I said before, you are already well beyond the point of diminishing returns. I would not recommend anyone study anything in preparation for EMT other than some basic medical terminology and maybe some very basic anatomy and physiology. You will not learn EKG's. Differential diagnoses will be minimal. Cellular physiology is non-existent. As @NomadicMedic said, your time is probably much better spent learning study skills and stress management techniques.
 

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