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Medical School Versus Real-Life Experience

"How one approaches patients is not always the same. Medical school & real-life experience differ."

Medical school will teach you what you need to know to become a doctor. It will teach you what to ask when taking a good history and physical: age of onset, duration of symptoms, quantity, quality, frequency, and associated symptoms. Residency teaches you how to apply this knowledge to real life patients and to come up with a differential diagnosis.

Experience teaches you to look at the intangibles as well: prior visits, personality, gender, culture, occupation, family dynamics, and even the way that the patient physically looks as they are telling the story. These factors can be equally as important when determining the underlying cause of a patient’s medical problem.

Patients are not created equal. Each patient should be addressed in such a way that a mutual message and understanding is achieved. Variations of interview style is essential, as some patients respond to a paternalistic physician, some to an emotional physician, and some to an authoritarian physician. The goal is to reach the patient, to connect, to earn their trust and ultimately to successfully treat their illness.

Cheers to learning from our experiences, and always striving to be the best you ✌🏽

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Henry Herrera, MD

Dr. Herrera is a double board-certified gastroenterologist and advanced endoscopist practicing in south Texas in an area known as the Rio Grande Valley. He is a social media advocate and enjoys sharing medical information with the public.

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