Thursday, November 8, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE -7 - laying on of hands

Prostate exam! Me!! NO WAY!!

At some point in this mother of all years we were taught the fine art of the physical examination. This was accomplished by dividing the class into small groups that met separately. The female students were discretely assigned to their own group, after all, this was 1962. Doing our very best to look cool and professional, we fumbled with otoscopes, stethoscopes, and hammers as we made our way over each others body. We practiced on ourselves before we were turned loose on some unsuspecting patient. I looked into my partner’s ears, eyes, nose, and throat. I felt, or at least tried to feel cervical and axillary lymph nodes, and thyroid gland, and of course he reciprocated. We thumped each others chest and palpated abdomens, doing our best to outline the liver and feel the spleen. As far as the genitalia were concerned, I don’t know if we skipped that or if I’m just repressing a bad memory. The rectal exam? That’s another story. Our preceptor asked for a volunteer on which he could demonstrate the technique, (was he serious!?!?) After a period of uncomfortable silence one of our group, who shall remain nameless, reluctantly stepped forward, and before we knew it, he was on the exam table in the knee-chest position with his bare butt up there for all to see. Like a trooper, he allowed the preceptor and each of us to perform the appointed task. The first prostate I ever felt belong to my brave classmate. I often wonder what would have happened if no one volunteered.

We mastered the very basics, the finer points of the physical exam would have to wait for our 4-6 week rotations in the specialty clinics next year.

1 comment:

Mary Thorsby said...

Wow. There must be a special place in medical heaven for those who volunter their southern hemispheres for those training sessions.