The Human Dimension

The practice of medicine is an extraordinary profession. The thrill of interviewing and examining your first patient should always stay in your mind. Clinicians must remember that even during the most trying times, they have been granted the enormous responsibility of caring for a patient. Common courtesy, kindness, respect, and attentiveness to the patient go a long way in establishing the so-called bedside manner, which has become less evident in the past few decades. Imagine yourself in the patient's situation. How would you like to be treated? Each student in medical school has the potential to develop into a devoted and compassionate clinician.

Always strive for precision and accuracy. Be strict in your approach to the history and physical examination. Always follow the same basic routines. Do not take shortcuts. It takes time to develop the skills of inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. Only with experience can the clinician master physical diagnosis. This textbook is only the introduction to a lifetime of learning about patients and their problems and diseases. As students, you will learn much from your patients. Even seasoned diagnosticians learn daily from their patients. Just as no two individuals have the same face or body appearance, no two individuals will react the same way to the same disease. This is one of the most exciting things about medicine: Every day offers new patients, new problems, new solutions.


Cameron S, Turtle-Song I: Learning to write case notes using the SOAP format. J Couns Dev 80:286, 2002. Weed LL: Medical records that guide and teach. N Engl J Med 278:593, 1968.

Weed LJ: The problem oriented record as a basic tool in medical education, patient care, and research. Ann Clin Res 3:131, 1971.

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