I recently visited Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and ran into to Fist Year Medical Students. They had on their short white coats and nametags and were hoping to have permission to examine a patient for their class on Physical Diagnosis. I immediately flashed back to my experience in the same hospital some 27 years earlier. It struck me that these guys weren’t even born yet.
I feel privileged to have been admitted to Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and remain proud of graduated AOA and having had the opportunities that led me to this point in my career. I could not help giving some unsolicited advice to these newbies.
I let them know that while physical diagnosis is important in eliciting symptoms and information, the key to realize is the patient is a person. They are not feeling well, sometimes fearful, and in a strange environment. Do not poke and prod them like lab rats.
Make a connection on a human level, show them your equality as beings while eliciting the confidence necessary to have them follow your commands, not as a subordinate but as a peer. Try to share a little of yourself to put them at ease.
I truly miss the opportunity to teach, and have been inspired to go back to P and S and see how I may be of service. Primum non nocere