Got a big endocrinology test this week, so I’ll keep things brief…
Do you think like a doctor (or a PA)? If you aren’t either then the answer is probably, “Of course not.” But slow down…
Thinking like a medical professional is a skill that can be learned, even if you don’t have a lot of medicine under your belt. Thinking like a doctor or a PA involves piecing facts and observations together with a patient’s story. One of the “rules” that we are taught in school is that despite all the fancy lab tests and examination techniques, 90% of diagnoses are made on the patient’s history alone. This means that becoming a good listener and putting together what you hear is the key to making most diagnoses, which brings us to today’s resource:
The New York Times (online edition, in this case) offers a great regular column on their Well Blog, called Do You Think Like a Doctor? I recently discovered it and have had a great time matching my wits against doctors, PAs, nurses, and the lay reader public. In DYTLAD, the reader is presented with patient case/scenario, and invited to make a guess as to what is wrong with the patient.
I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not even in medical school / PA school yet – how am I supposed to make a
diagnosis?” Well, that’s the point, I guess. Giving it a shot won’t hurt anyone, and even better, a short time later, the “answer” is posted, so you can learn as you go. Often these are complicated cases with rare diagnoses, but not always. In either case, there is much to learn that is explained without gobs of physiology or anatomy. It’s a great chance to passively soak up medicine and have fun doing it. If you luck out and get it right before anyone else (there’s some stiff competition), you win a prize.
This week’s case involves a woman with a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. It’s already been solved, but try it out. My only hint: like I said: we have an endocrinology test this week. Good luck!