Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Surprising Medical Insights

After reading the book How Doctors Think, by Jerome Goodall, I gained a lot of new, shocking insights about what goes on behind-the-scenes in the medical world. And although some of it seemed a little upsetting, I gained an entirely new respect for the work that doctors, especially pediatricians do everyday.  I definitely underestimated what it took to be an experienced, well-rounded doctor.

However, I do feel as if there are problems with the ways in which medical schools are teaching their students. He explained that in medical school when they saw patients during rounds, they would be "led through a calm, deliberate, and linear analysis of the clinical information," (Groopman 34). Even on the first night of being out of the medical school and into the hospital on his own, Groopman learned that "thinking was inseparable from acting," (Groopman 35). Nobody can truly be prepared to what can happen to a patient when they are not working under an instructor. Groopman was dealing with a patient, William Morgan, just having a normal conversation with him when his blood pressure started falling and his breathing turned abnormal and he had to idea what to do. He was getting flustered and frenzied, because obviously he had never dealt with an experience like this. This is one thing that medical schools will teach you in textbooks and writings but how do you know how to really deal with it when you face it in real life? This is definitely a flawed system because all the medical students have to rely on is that encyclopedia in their heads or index cards that they carry around with them. However, textbook definitions of diagnoses and procedures is not always how it goes with patients.

Despite the flaws of medical schools, I never realized all the different problems and things that doctors had to go through when evaluating patients. I mean, obviously I knew that being a doctor would be no cake walk, which is why only the smartest people can become one, but I never realized the extent of it until this book. For example, even when a doctor thinks they have the right answer, all the right symptoms pointing to one disease and everything, they should create a list in the back of their minds of other possibilities that it could be. The doctor cannot ask patients questions in certain ways, and there can always be misunderstandings between patients and doctors. For example, he described the pediatrician that had a regular patient that left because she thought she was being racially profiled as having dirty blood, when in fact it was just a diagnosis that her blood had been contaminated while being tested and she completely misunderstood, but left to find a new doctor anyway. Doctors have to do their best, most complete job under heavy time constraints, Groopman described it as spinning plates with people distracting you and always asking you for something at the same time. In that sense, doctors have to be able to have very good divided attention. As we discussed in lecture, there are tons of qualities that people look for in doctors, and knowledge is not even one of the top ones,, and great doctors have to encompass all of these, even after going through a flawed medical school system!

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