Today we had our first lecture on the female genitourinary exam. It is part of a class called “The Complete DOctor,” which is where we learn all the basic skills involved in being a physician, such as taking a history and performing a physical. Only half of my class was in attendance.
Now, in all fairness, a lot of students don’t go to any classes. They choose to learn on their own, and they find it a better use of their time. ATSU doesn’t make lectures “required,” which is fine. However, we have been told several times that we are expected to come to our “D.O.” classes. So, I guess you could say, they are highly recommended.
So far, our D.O. classes have covered history-taking, chest/heart/lung exam, musculoskeletal upper extremity exam, abdominal exam, sexual history taking, and now the female genitourinary exam. These are all very important skills for a physician. 70% of correct diagnoses are made from the history alone. Another 20% are made from a proper physical exam.
And half of the future doctors in my class don’t go to these lectures. This is probably pretty shocking to you. You’re thinking, How could people who want to be doctors skip their lectures in medical school?! Well, the truth is, they had “more important” things to do.
We had an anatomy quiz this afternoon. A lot of people were probably studying for that. We have a block exam coming up, so maybe they were studying for physiology or immunology. And, the reason they’re skipping our D.O. class for other classes is because our other classes are actually graded.
Now, that’s not to say we don’t get any grade in D.O., but it is basically a pass/fail situation. We have standardized patients, which are pass/fail, and we have a few tests. But the tests are pretty easy. They might require one to study for an hour or two tops.
Our other classes, such as anatomy, physiology, or immunology, are not quite as easy. They require a TON of studying because they show up on block exams, finals, and, eventually, the Boards. It is easy to see why people take these classes more seriously.
I don’t want to let my fellow students completely off the hook. I find time to study for my other classes and attend D.O. lectures. I go because I think that they’re important. Today we watched a video in class about how to give a proper breast exam. I really need to see that and begin to prepare for the real thing. We will be doing this on real people in a matter of weeks! I don’t want to go in there empty-handed (no pun intended).
The real problem is the way that medical education is structured, and it isn’t just a problem at my school. It is everywhere. A person can get amazing grades, be top of the class, pass the boards with flying colors and still be a terrible doctor because they can’t interact with a patient.
We had standardized patients yesterday, and it went pretty well (which is more than I can say for the last ones). My patients gave me very good feedback. One of my patients said I seemed very confident, and he was surprised that I was only in my first year. He said it seemed like I was “already a doctor.”
That really makes me happy. More happy than any exam grade I could ever get. I’ve heard stories of students who offended their patient and basically walked into the room like an arrogant jerk. How someone can be an arrogant jerk at this stage in the game, is beyond me. I really want to be a good doctor, and I really want to make my patients feel comfortable, so it is a real confidence-booster to hear that I’m at least on the right track.
But, enough about me. The truth is, our D.O. classes should be required. I wouldn’t want a medical student to perform a breast exam on me if he/she hadn’t attended the lecture, even if they were top of the class. Even though anatomy and physiology might be more important right now, learning how to perform a proper physical is going to be infinitely more important in the long-run.