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Forgetful? You are not alone!

blog charting charting champions human memory smarter charting Nov 14, 2022
Woman frustrated and throwing her hands in the air

The other night I was sitting on the couch noticing a headache starting. My neck was achy and my legs were tired. That morning I had been to the gym and worked hard as it was leg day. "Fair enough legs" I thought to myself. The headache progressed, as did the achy neck. Weird. I had no reason for this. Maybe I had lapsed in my PPE during the ER shifts last week. Maybe that nice dinner and evening star gazing in Jasper on Saturday was enough to have picked up something viral from the members of public in the restaurant or the short bus ride?

Enough was enough, as I got up from my chair to go find Tylenol I rubbed my upper thigh and felt the warm lump of a recent flu-vax. "Oh!" I exclaimed to husband. "I had a flu-vax today, I forgot about that!". "How can you forget you had a needle in your thigh today?", great question.

My husband often looks at me perplexed that I simply forget things. I justified it with "It was between patients this afternoon, I dashed in and had my jab and just went back to work". "But clearly you interacted with someone and got your pants down for a thigh jab!" . Yes, this was true, I had interacted with the visiting pharmacist, asked her about her pregnancy and got my pants down for a thigh jab (personally I am not a fan of a sore arm post flu-vax, I react well every time!).

So why had I forgotten the encounter? Simply, it was not part of the important work of the day. Clinical Decision Making; talking to a little over 46 patients that day (23 in person, phone calls or emails) and more than 150 inbox items had taken precedence. I worked HARD all day and my brain has learned to see the next item, make a decision, complete the documentation and move on. Not dwelling on it. Consider it complete and dump it from my working memory.

I work faster when there is less going on in my working memory.

Yes we are AMAZING with the amount we can carry in our working memory, we have built this muscle as Physicians and Health Professionals, but we are still faster at decision making if we keep it as clean as possible.

The University of Toronto has done some research around this. I like to believe them, that being forgetful is actually a sign of high intelligence 😎. No room for the unimportant details, like remembering I had a flu-vax today 😆. “The real goal of memory is to optimize decision-making.” says U of T Scarborough Assistant Professor Blake Richards, author of a new review study focusing on the role forgetting information plays in memory.


“It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world.”


So to my fellow forgetful peers, I totally get you!

Have a wonderful week everyone and keep working toward sustainable clinical practice your way and remember, I am ready to help you achieve this goal, check out the link below to find details of the program best suited to you and hit reply if you have any questions or stories of your forgetfulness 😜

Charting Champions Program - for Physicians

Smarter Charting Program - for NPs and Advanced Practice Providers

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