Sergei Shushunov, born on October 31, 1951, and moved to a communal apartment straight from the hospital. For those who don’t know: the communal apartment is shared by several unrelated families where the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, etc are used by all, and the families take turns cleaning them on a weekly basis, or not cleaning at all if agreed. They were common back then in many parts of the Soviet Union, but I think Leningrad (named St. Petersburg once again) had the largest share. Partly because 6 years after the end of WWII, during which the city was exposed to 3 years of bombardment, it was not completely rebuilt, partly because it was a home to huge factories, constantly absorbing fresh hands, which were coming from all over the country and needed living space and partly because the party rulers gave a damn and the money was spent on other very important projects like space exploration, thermonuclear explosive devices, submarines, Red Army hockey team, Bolshoi Ballet, Cuban revolution and other unedible and uninhabitable things.
I suppose I learned a lot in my youth. I learned to play clarinet well enough to consider going to conservatory. I learned to be a cartographer and managed for a brief period of time to earn a living by making maps. Later I picked up an ax and learned to be a carpenter. I learned to sail, to fly a small plane, to weld, to shoot straight. I learned to test the limits of my physical endurance, including swimming in ice water. I have learned a few more useful and not so useful things, but it was the medicine that finally captured my attention.
My medical education lasted for 6 years. By the end of it, scared and inexperienced novice I was thrown into a year-long pediatric emergency medicine training. Once it was over, I thought I knew a lot, but I kept learning. The interesting thing followed: the more I learned medicine, the less I thought I knew it. By now, after a total of 7 years of post-graduate training, 40 years of practice and numerous courses I think I know very little. A paradox? Yes. “The more you learn the less you know”. Despite that over the years my confidence as a physician grew steadily, and it’s possible that in the following 20 or 30 years of practicing medicine I will be able to conclude that when it comes to saving lives, the raw of knowledge is less important than practice and confidence. I hope I have enough time to explain this dichotomy to myself…
Sergei Shushunov maintains a blog http://sergei-shushunov-kidshealthnews.blogspot.com/ where he shares his views with parents and caretakers on trendy news related to pediatrics.