“That was an excellent physical examination, Action Potential. Strong work.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Of course, if you were a med student from my med school, I’d have to fail you.”
“D’you know why?”
“… I… nope.”
“You did the entire examination from the left side of the patient.”
“We don’t do that.”
“… We don’t?”
“Of course not. It’s a tradition in medicine to stand on the patient’s right.”
I felt a little blind-sided by this conversation, but I chalked it up to my preceptor’s med school just being weird (and also possibly a totalitarian dystopia where people are failed for standing wrong) – at least, until I remembered an encounter I once had with my family physician.
Years ago, on an exceptionally busy day, her nurse had me wait in a different provider’s exam room. So my doctor walked in, started to greet me – then stopped mid-sentence and physically rearranged the damn furniture so she would have room to examine me from the right side.
She had me hop off the exam table so she could pull the table away from the wall and everything.
At the time I thought she was crazy, but now I’m realizing that it’s more likely that it’s Medicine as a field that’s crazy and in dire need of loosening up a bit but DING DING command “LoosenUp.exe” not recognized by server:medicine.
Maybe I’m paranoid, but I’m beginning to suspect that it’s actually my school that’s weird for not requiring students to learn the physical exam exclusively from one singular, easily obstructed position with no versatility whatsoever.
Do you examine patients only from the right? Did your med school tell you that’s the tradition? Does your med school care about this tradition to the point where they’d actually make it a policy? Do you want to fight?
I’m kidding. Of course you do. We have a difference of opinion here, and – as a med student – I know of no other way to solve it. (Besides maybe just having an extended passive-aggressive Letters to The Editor war about it in a major scientific journal. Also an option!)