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Posted Apr 18 2010 5:42am
I'm aware some of those who glance at these posts from time to time are doctors in training at various levels from pre-medical students, to undergraduate medical students, to interns and residents. For you, and because I find it somewhat interesting, I thought I'd offer this observation and piece of advice--those who are successful in their training have a greater degree of curiosity than those who don't.

This curiosity presents in many different ways, but as I attend a residency inpatient teaching service this weekend I've noticed on multiple occasions the successful resident or student, regardless of level of training, is the one who is not satisfied with the diagnosis handed to them by an ER physician as "the same thing they were here for last time," but are willing to consider each patient with fresh eyes and with a broad differential.

At times these doctors or doctors-to-be do have a certain innate medical intelligence and are able to recognize various patterns of symptoms and pair them with a list of diagnoses. Some are tremendously driven and will themselves through painstaking hard work to make themselves stand out. However, the ones who seem to make medicine look the most effortless, the most fun, and are the most fun to teach are those with the intellectual curiosity to keep an open mind, consider what no one else has, and enjoy solving the puzzle they have created for themselves. It is their gift of curiosity which separates them and can elevate a third year medical student higher than a third year resident in the mind of the attending physician.

As I look back on the residents I've taught who are now in practice on their own, perhaps not surprisingly, it is these physicians with which I'd entrust the care of my family and friends.

The Country Doctor
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