For the Record
It has been said that records are made to be broken. Of course this has general reference to sports and athletics. Still, it can apply to physiology, to your own health records, and to the records you teach your patients and clients to keep.
Physiology, like all sciences, is a science of record keeping. Some of the records are known as data. Above all else that they do, physiologists are first and foremost writers. Through the centuries, they have collected their records in different forms such as handwritten on paper, ink-drawn polygraphs, heat-inscribed tracings, and electronic files. Physiologists call the primary source of their records original data. After several weeks of experimentation, the physiologist's original data begin to accumulate. Before they can publish their observations, physiologists have to extract selected pieces of information from each original record. That information is reduced, subjected to rigorous statistical analysis, then transformed into figures, tables, images, and a textual manuscript. The manuscript is submitted to a scientific journal where it gets reviewed by peers, rejected by editors, resubmitted by authors, and finally published and made available to the interested public. Records and the reports they lead to are an indispensable component of physiology and life. The student should learn this early and practice it continuously.
When my young family and I were struggling on an assistant professor's salary, an older friend and colleague gave us a used car. As helpful as the second car was, my friend gave me another gift that was almost as important. It was a file folder filled with all the original service and maintenance records for that car. These records became indispensable to me when I assumed responsibility for this car. The folder and my friend's act taught me to keep records on all my future cars.
Imagine that as a health care provider you agree to take on a new patient. Suppose that this patient, during his first office visit, hands you a file folder