Knowing Your Patients and the Art of Medicine

March 31, 2012 in Clinical PAs, PA Educators, PA Students, Prospective PAs

Art and creativity are inseparable. They are intimately connected.

In no way is it creative to simply funnel patients through, check off labs, reorder the same prescriptions, and set up the same follow-ups. But this is what can happen when a rushed internist or family medicine physician assistant sees 30 patients a day. The practice of medicine becomes more mechanical, the provider more robotic. Less time spent with patients equates to less opportunity to practice the art of medicine.

We can only become creative in medicine when we really get to know our patients, when we take the time to both develop and nurture genuine interpersonal relationships.

Practicing the art of medicine is temporarily withholding that diabetes medication for Hal because you understand him well enough to know he will be more motivated to establish an exercise routine if it means having to take less medication. Practicing the art of medicine is starting that same diabetes medication now for Janie because you understand her well enough to know her anxiety disorder will be exacerbated if nothing is initiated right away.

If you fail to know your patients, you fail to practice the art of medicine. If you fail to practice the art of medicine, then you fail period.

5 responses to Knowing Your Patients and the Art of Medicine

  1. I am at my best when caring for patients (or students) when I am able to bond. I believe that patient perception is the key to good medicine. When we work to understand (not assume) that perception, we are practicing at our best. I am practicing at my best.

    In my experience, the usual barrier to this bond is ‘noise;’ noise within me, or the facility.

    Nonetheless, I find myself distracted from nurturing this bond at times. I find myself pulled towards routine in the name of efficiency.

    For me to stay on focus on the “art of medicine,” I need a deep sense of self, and constant self-exploration. This is also true for the “art of teaching.” I need to constantly question my motives and incentive, with my lighthouse being a deep commitment to a fiduciary relationship with my patients, and students.

    That’s why I chose medicine and teaching in the first place.

  2. Yes, I see individualized medicine as creativity in its highest form. What more beautiful art medium than live human beings?

  3. Well said..as a special educator and aspiring PA..I know no other way than to take into account the whole patient as I did with the student…spending time with a child and/or patient is key to obtaining background information that can help with the identifying the root cause and exhausting every strategy I have in my toolbox before making a life changing diagnosis or putting a child in a certain “category”. There are no “cookie cutter” approaches for special education or medicine….The challenge and the creativity of it all comes from utilizing prior experiences, coping strategies, best practices and research. You can tell which doctors and PA’s have that extra element of experience and, what we call it in the special ed. field,….”withitness”

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