Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wanna Be a Doctor? How Cool is This?
"What the heck are you doing?" she asked. So I explained to her about this ancient technique called "percussion" and how without an xray, MRI or a CT scan (terms she was familiar with), I could estimate the size of her organs and whether they were normal.
"That is SO COOL!" she exclaimed. I was thrilled that this simple method could intrigue my young patient so I asked the question I always do when someone shows the least bit of curiosity about medicine: "Did you ever think of being a doctor?"
I told her about Abraham Verghese of Cutting for Stone fame and his wonderful list of simple skills that every physician should have. Called the Stanford 25 , it is a compilation of physical diagnosis maneuvers performed at the patient's bedside with little more than a stethoscope, the four senses (we don't do taste anymore!) and a trained mind. I was happy to see that the examination of the liver is the fourth technique on the list. I first discovered Verghese's mission when I was in Haiti with no technology other than what I brought in my backpack.
The deprivation of working in Haiti isn't necessary to appreciate the value of these fundamental skills. I am reminded every day of how much I enjoy practicing the basics and trying to solve the body's mysteries. Not to mention turning on a student every now and again to the field of medicine.
image from Google images