When I was doing my externship, one of my mentors recommended a book to me, which explored and described how doctors think from a human physician’s standpoint. I have not finished reading it, however, I already found it pretty interesting to learn more about a doctor’s thinking process. It’s just like communicating with a mind reader, who tells exactly how you think.
In veterinary school, we are taught how to think and approach the patient’s illness in a systemic manner. We are taught that common diseases occur commonly, but there are times that we do need to think outside the box. There are also times no one can really explain how doctors think and why they make specific medical decisions because it might be just a gut feeling based on years of experience.
As a budding veterinarian, I admit that at the beginning of studying medicine, I would reach for some sort of algorithm or diagnostic tree to aid in diagnosis and treatment so as not to miss things that I was not familiar with. Nevertheless, we all know that a doctor’s thinking process is not simply an algorithm, as each individual patient is unique, and their uniqueness will come into play and affect the clinical picture. Therefore, there is not a blanket solution to even the simplest medical problem. There are many diagnostic trees available, however, they are merely for reference because the patient doesn’t read the book. Solely tracing down that diagnostic tree will result in a clinician missing a fair amount of information. Furthermore, a clinician’s brain is not a well-programmed machine, instead, it integrates and analyzes whatever valuable information that is obtained from the patient and then makes the appropriate judgment. The more we practice, the more we learn and the more clinical acuity we gain. The capability to integrate information and the flexibility to design diagnostic and treatment plans make medicine an art.