Posted in Psychology & Medicine

Holistic Medicine

At face value, medicine appears to work on a relatively simple model. You gather information through history taking, clinical examination and investigations such as lab tests and imaging. Then, you narrow down the differential diagnosis to the single most likely diagnosis. Lastly, you treat the diagnosis as per the recommended treatment guidelines.

But if you ask anyone who works in healthcare, they will all know that is not the whole truth. There are so many other factors and variables that play in to the management of a patient that the model above does not address.

For example, you may diagnose a skin infection and prescribe antibiotics, but the person may not have enough disposable income to pay for the medications. You may come up with a plan for the patient to come in to clinic in a week’s time for a review, but they may not have transport or someone to look after their children so that they can come in. You may diagnose that there is nothing medically wrong with the patient, but they may still be worried that they have a serious condition that killed their father.

In medicine, you do not treat the disease; you treat the patient. It is easy to get so focussed on the clinical picture that the overall context is lost. This leads to incomplete care, which causes a variety of issues ranging from patient dissatisfaction to recurrent presentations.

Although it may seem difficult and time-consuming to pay attention to these extra details, it almost always pays off in one way or another. Addressing a patient’s troubled social situation may reduce the number of times they present to hospital, saving significant costs. The doctor taking the time to reassure the patient that their symptom is not concerning for a significant illness may let the patient sleep comfortably at night. Talking through the patient or their family’s concerns and questions might make the worst day of their lives slightly more tolerable.

This approach is useful outside of the hospital too. When you face a problem, regardless of the type, instead of trying to come up with a quick fix to patch it up, try to consider the context of the problem. You may discover that there is a deeper, more fundamental cause of the problem that needs fixing.

Posted in Simple Pleasures of Life

Simple Pleasures of Life #27

Treating yo’self.

I’m a firm believer in operant conditioning. When I start gearing up for exam study, I implement a reward system of giving myself a piece of chocolate after completing a lecture (or set amount of work). This motivates me to work faster, more efficiently and gets me revved up for study mode.

We just had our first (out of two) major exam today, hence another late post. See we have two massive exams at the end of 5th year that pretty much covers all of our clinical knowledge. Since we don’t have exams in our final year, this is pretty much THE exam for med school. That along with short cases which I had last week (practical clinical examinations). 

So for doing a good job, I treated myself to making nachos, playing Pokemon and watching copious amounts of TV. The Walking Dead has started and daaaaayam it be good!!! 😀 My original plan was to do a bit of study but screw it, daddy needs a break before starting study for the last exam… 

Anyway for those of you who are working your asses off… treat yo self.