Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Examinator

One of the more exciting, and often intimidating, elements of first year is discovering how to interview and examine patients. Practicing first on actors, my classmates and I will shortly dive (closely supervised, of course) into real clinical encounters to hone these time-honored skills on the genuine article.

As I anticipate listening to my first heart murmur and palpating my first abdomen, however, debate swirls over whether the exam is properly taught, and how relevant it remains amid increasingly digitized medicine.

NPR ran a piece yesterday examining the current state of health of the physical exam, which some physicians maintain is a cornerstone of the doctor-patient relationship. For a different perspective, Shadowfax over at Movin' Meat argues that the full exam provides little benefit over a careful interview and well-chosen tests.

Will the exam stage a comeback, or will diagnostic testing continue to play an increasingly important role? I'm sure the debate will continue. In the meantime, I have a brand new reflex hammer to try out...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a big believer in the hands-on approach. Medicine should still be practiced when the electricity goes off... with limits. Kind of like how people should now how to use a calculator when the registers don't work.