Curiosity: what makes a doctor truly great

I have never been invited to give a graduation address. The closest I came was my own high school graduation, when I was the unofficial valedictorian. Since my clas did not have a tradition of the highest-ranked student addressing the class on graduation epoch, though, I didn’t get the chance. Our commencement speaker, a television news anchor and former graduate, handed a great speech that I still remember more vividly than the addresses by bigger epithets at my college, medical school, and public health graduation ceremonies.Obviously, I have not had the good fortune of hearing Dr. Atul Gawande speak at a initiation.( Atul, if you’re reading this, Georgetown University School of Medicine would be delighted to have you address a future graduating class .) In 2018 he handed a profoundly insightful address at UCLA that went viral on social media. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the detail he drove dwelling is that in a day when discrimination and unequal treatment have become as socially acceptable in some haloes as in the pre-American Civil Rights era, it remains the sacred announcing of medicine to recognize that all lives have equal worth, and that doctors and patients share a “common core of humanity”: Without being open to their humanity, it is impossible to provide good care to people–to insure, for example, that you’ve given them enough anesthetic before doing a procedure. To consider their humanity, you must put yourself in their shoes. That requires a willingness to ask beings what it’s like in those shoes. It necessary curiosity about others and the world beyond your boarding zone.Curiosity. If prescription were only about the social sciences of the human body in health and disease, I would never have become a family doctor. Fortunately, that isn’t so; in fact, after years of practice I often feel that the science has become incidental to doctoring. Yes, the knowledge base for prescription is always expanding, but as I tell students, irrespective of what battlefield of remedy you have selected, the technical phases eventually become routine. Even disaster and family physicians, who meeting the largest variety of indications and identifications, get acclimated to bread-and-butter meetings: back sting, chest pain, respiratory infections, the management of common chronic conditions under or out of control.What obstructs my job meaningful is learning about the details of my patients’ lives that aren’t solely medical. As Dr. Faith Fitzgerald wrote in a classic article two decades ago: What does interest have to do with the humanistic practice of medicine? … I believe that it is curiosity that proselytizes strangers( the objects of analysis) into parties we can empathize with. To participate in the feelings and ideas of one’s patients–to empathize–one must be curious enough to know the patients: their reputations, cultures, spiritual and physical responses, hopes, past, and social circumvents. Truly puzzled people go beyond science into artistry, record, literature, and conversation as part of the practice of medicine.Then, as now, distress to be efficient in evaluating cases threatened to suppress natural curiosity. Dr. Fitzgerald bemoaned an educational system that produces medical students who were too un-curious to ask a patient how he had been pierced in the groin by a serpent( “How could one not expect? ” ), or to question the “BKA( below-knee amputation) seasons two” description in the chart of individual patients who undoubtedly had legs. Lastly, she mentioned one patient who had been saw by the housestaff to be the “dullest”( least interesting) on the service: an old woman who( upon further probe) turned out to have survived the sinking of the Titanic. 2020 graduates, I am delighted that many of you will be recruit family medicine this year, but regardless of the medical specialty you’ve chosen, don’t ever stop being inquisitive – especially about the most “difficult” patients and the ones you least understand. It is that skill, more than any other, that will sustain you in your work and that separates the purely qualified physicians from the rightfully great ones .** This affix firstly appeared on Common Sense Family Doctor on June 4, 2018 and in a slightly different form as “What Makes A Doctor Truly Great” in the November/ December 2018 FPM.

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