A Lesson from Chemistry I Never Expected

I’m taking summer classes right now. Only two are in class and one online. The one in sit down class only has myself on the attendance role. The second sit down class has roughly 18 students including myself so it’s more of a typical college course.

Anyway, my third class (Chemistry) has a mix of different majors in it. The grade levels fluctuate as well as the ages. This helps me to understand things from other peoples opinions and the age range helps, too.

In my last class, we were reviewing for our first exam. It covered the basics of the first week: metric conversions, temperature conversions, density and volume calculations. The one thing that made most people break out into a cold sweat was the need to study and know the Periodic Table of Elements. Granted our professor divided the table up into parts per test, but the idea of looking at an unknown group of letters and numbers made people cringe. One moment from this sticks out like the first colored leaf in Autumn, though.

As we jotted down the requirements, a female in her late 20’s to early 30’s was grunting, sighing, and moaning (think about the reaction you would get when you tell a child to do something they didn’t want to do). Every now and then she would verbally put her two cents in under her breath. Then one question blurted out loud enough from under her breath to make it to the professor’s ears.

“When are we ever going to need to know this?”

This one question gave me a pain in my stomach from the ignorance level portrayed. Surprisingly, the professor didn’t hesitate to come back (respectfully) with an answer.

“Well, what is it that you’re majoring in, ma’am?”

“I’m going for my RN, why?”

At this point I did a mental “face palm” as the professor just stood and a smile began to grow. He began to ask her several questions with a few hypothetical questions sprinkled into the mix. The last two things conversed were the ones that  jut out in my mind as a mixture of disgust but new outlook for me.

Professor: If you were diagnosing a patient who was living in ICU due to many health complications, how would you know how to measure the correct dose? Keeping in mind that too little may not help and you overlook adding more or you give too much and possibly kill them?

Female: I don’t know, I would call the pharmacy and ask how much to inject.

Professor (smiling): Well then please do me a favor. Think of a nurse telling you that she had to stop treating your child or mother because s/he needed to call the pharmacy to ask how much morphine to inject. Keeping in mind that too much could slow his heart rate enough to place him in cardiac arrest and even death. And when s/he came back, s/he looked confused trying to figure out what a CC (cubic centimeter) is. I don’t say these remarks to be rude, but learning new things can never be a bad thing. And in the case of a medical student, you will definitely use this.

The female just stared

Professor: Never be afraid to learn something new. It will always benefit you.

The room fell silent. I was doing a happy dance in my head. And after a few minutes I thought a few things to myself. I wanted to shake this man’s hand. Not only for respectfully and politely answering this woman’s question, but for allowing me to realize that  there will always be those who still act as though they haven’t grown up yet, regardless of age. I mean, laziness and excuse making is obviously high with people, but the fact that someone working towards a field (medical) that people should hold to a high standard is arguing about something as childish and obvious as this to a man with a Bachelors, Masters, and a PhD, wow!

It’s like I’ve always said, stay hungry for knowledge. It will only benefit you. The funny thing is I learned a different side of this concept where I least expected it. And the best part is, I didn’t even need to study to learn this one.

Above all else, keep your head up and stay hungry for knowledge.


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