Friday, January 16, 2009

No You Can't Leave...I'm Not A Real Doctor

I'm writing this post to beg everyone to remember that a 1st year medical student is NOT a real doctor. Make no mistake about it, you are doing US a huge favour when you let us see you in the clinic. You are helping us learn how to interview, give shots, perform a head and neck exams, etc. The most we can do for you is give you pleasant conversation and maybe a laugh.

This week in the clinic, I saw a man who was diagnosed with bronchitis during his previous visit, he wanted to know if he was getting better. I took his history and listened to his lungs. I haven't been formally taught how to do a respiratory exam yet, but my preceptor told me to give it a shot. How hard can it be? I know both where the lungs are and how to use a stethoscope. Anyways, I took my best guess and his lungs sounded fine to me. Unfortunately, I have no idea what they would sound like if they weren't fine, so my opinion is relatively worthless at this point and I made sure to let the patient know as much. I would hate to make him think that he was getting better only to have the preceptor see him and tell him that he needs to go to the hospital immediately.

Anyhow, I left the patient in the exam room and waited outside for my preceptor, who was seeing another patient. Eventually, my patient got tired of waiting and tried to leave. He told me that I checked him out and that was good enough.

No, it really wasn't good enough. I had to twist the guy's arm to get him to stay. Maybe next time I should tell the patient I think they have SARS, that way they'll probably wait to hear an opinion from a real doctor.

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