Patients make the best teachers

…if the medical student is expecting to learn!

Some of the most poignant moments I had in med school were when our lecturers bring in their patients to describe their experience to us.

There was the man with obsessive-compulsive disorder who said, “Imagine that you’re in an airport, and suddenly you lose sight of your 4-year old daughter. You worry that she’s been kidnapped, that someone abducted her in the bathroom, that she’s being chopped up and you’ll never see her again, that if a bomb goes off in the airport she’ll be killed. And your thoughts never stop running like this, ever. That’s what having OCD is like.”

There was the tough Vietnam vet with end-stage renal disease who joked about how dialysis had improved his social life in leaps and bounds.

The Internet, that cornucopia of informational delights, has a lot of great videos and essays about living with disease. This video on cystinuria made me care more about learning about cystinuria, which up until that point, had been just another of a million disorders of renal tubule transporters that I had to memorize.

This video of Treacher Collins forever etched in my mind defects of branchial arch formation, but also made me feel warm and fuzzy for the rest of the day. (Embarrassing Bodies was a wonderful study break during boards studying period.)

To patients: share your experiences with med students! No one can be an expert on all the world’s diseases, but we’re looking for YOUR stories to anchor us–stories to hold on to during medical training so we don’t get swept away by apathy.

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About the friendly intern

Ask a question: The Friendly Intern My personal blog: Pathos and Pathology
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