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Your Doctor’s Brain

I have a split medical personality.  On one hand, I am a pediatrician;  I light up around babies and love to mess around with little kids.  On the other hand, I am an Internist; I love complex problems and love talking to the elderly.  But the one part of internal medicine which gives me perhaps the most joy is the opportunity to solve medical puzzles.  Yes, pediatrics has puzzles in it too, but they are far more common in adults.

The term used for a medical puzzle-solver is diagnostician.  It is always a great compliment to a physician to be called a great diagnostician.  It means you are a good thinker, have a good store of facts, know how to organize your thoughts properly, and can see patterns in things you otherwise would never have found.  It is the Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Whimsey, or Harry Dresden side of medicine.  The diagnostician searches for clues, but especially searches where they are most often missed: right out in the open.

I am not sure anyone has called me a good diagnostician, but there are few things that give as much satisfaction in my job.  It calls on my creativity, my memory, my mental organization, my ability to ask questions, my power of observation, and my ability to put all the disparate pieces together to form a cohesive whole.  It’s not just coming up with an answer; it’s coming up with a plan.Continue reading…

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