Clinic Tales

I watched as Dr. P broke the news. Lung cancer. While the diagnosis was not a surprise to the patient (she had brought her sister and son to the appointment, I’m assuming for support), it was still a somber moment. I was impressed with Dr. P’s calm but empathetic demeanor during the conversation. In no way did I feel the encounter was rushed. Dr. P answered every question to the best of her ability in a straightforward manner.

That was a rough way to start out the afternoon.

Later, I was able to see two patients on my own, both with COPD. I learned very quickly that patients with COPD have breath sounds that are very minimal or often absent. I had a conversation with Dr. P that went something like this:

“So what do you hear?”

Me, listening intently for something but not hearing anything, “Umm… not much actually.”

“Good. Yeah, there is very little air movement.”

I was relieved and glad I didn’t try to make an uneducated guess.

Something else I have noticed as I spend more time in clinic is that Dr. P knows her patients very well. For whatever reason I had in my mind the idea that specialists spend less time with patients and don’t really get to know them outside of their disease. I realize now what a ridiculous assumption this is, especially because even in a specialty social and family factors are always going to play a role and a good physician should be generally aware of what is going on.