Monkey See, Monkey... Don't Do

One of the unofficial purposes of the clinical rotations of medical school is to expose students to a wide variety of "styles" of doctoring by rotating beneath a wide breadth of physicians. At its core, medicine is a service industry, and there is much to be learned on how to navigate the landscape of illness besides basic science and "standard of care." One of the benefits of working with a variety of clinicians is the opportunity to steal small techniques or tricks to incorporate into your own future practice. I learned how to use the otoscope on children by pretending there's a bird in their ear, then asking to see the other ear because it flew across. I saw a brilliant and humbling example of how to break bad news when I had a patient die from a PE and sat it on the conference with the patient's parents. From discussing end of life care, to learning how to sternly (and compassionately) say to patients "sorry, I will not prescribe you vicodin," to motivational interviewing, to diagramming medical conditions in an understandable way on a piece of paper, I've been fortunate to have hoarded a small arsenal of personal experiences up to this point which aid in my clinical acumen.

Along the same lines, ever so often you come across an experience where the way a physician handles the situation makes you grimace on the inside. These are also valuable pieces of information to incorporate into your own clinical style, as who you are as a person is just as much who you aren't, as who you are (courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department). I recently had such an experience today. So, without further ado, I will now impart upon you the latest addition of Things MedZag Will Not Do As A Doctor:

If you are interviewing a patient and are faced the opposite direction to update their active medications list on your EMR, and the patient begins to talk of their recently deceased spouse of 40 years and breaks downs in tears, PLEASE do not continue to chart with your back to the patient while they sob in your general direction. For the love of God, turn around and face the patient.

The medication list can wait. That is all.