Before Google images and digital cameras, drawing was taught as an essential skill for scientist to communicate and teach their findings. In addition, this allowed scientist to enhance their observation and identify holes within their perception.
As clinicians we are commonly put in situations where we need to be able to recognize patterns, visual cues, and structures. The problem is recognition is only as good as our initial perception. For example; when paramedic students are studying airway anatomy, the main objective on their mind is identifying the vocal cords. They commonly will bury their blade into the hypopharynx and quickly become lost in a sea of pink tissue. They aren't looking for the epiglottis, they are on a one way mission to find the vocal cords. Their initial perception was obscured by their procedural momentum. This is the same circumstance when it comes to quickly scanning a 12 lead looking for gross S-T elevation. Your eyes see what they are looking for. Important details can reside in your peripherals.
How Do We Fix This?
A few years I incorporated something I call "Illustrative Competence" into my practice. This is the ability re-create something from scratch. All you need to test your knowledge of vital memory aided images, is a blank piece of paper and pencil.
Below are three experiments for you to try out. Do not become frustrated if this proves to be difficult at first. Remember you are not testing your ability to draw, but rather looking for holes in your cognitive gallery.
"Draw a normal 12 lead"
"Draw the anatomy of the airway"
"Draw the cardiac conduction cycle"
Now check out the podcast!
1. Rediscovering The Forgotten Benefits Of Drawing.