Stethoscope Learning Curve

Scene: My early clinical clerkship, cardiopulm unit. My attending has just finished listening to a patient’s lungs, and put down her stethescope with a look of concern on her face.

Attending: Hmmm. Would you like to listen to this patient’s lungs?
Me: Yeah, that’d be great, thanks.
Attending: *is paged* Ooh.. be right back. *leaves*
Me: *has no idea what I’m doing and is taking the last resort of “fake it ’till you make it”* Okay, sir, could you just breathe in for me? …. Great… and breathe out…
Patient’s Lung: ….
Me: *realizes I’m listening to his scapula like a crazy person* Okay.. and now we’ll try here… Breathe for me again.
Patient’s Lung: ….
Me: Hmm. *other side* And again?
Patient’s Lung: ….
Attending: *returns* Okay, great. Now: what did you hear?
Me: Um, I didn’t actually hear anyhthing… but it was the same on both sides?
Attending: Fantastic! That’s right! *to patient* It seems like air isn’t really getting to your lungs.
Me: *internally: YESSSSSS!*

Go figure. Let’s call it a moment of validation.

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