As a medical student, you find potential patients everywhere

An excerpt from Diary of a Medical Student.

As a medical student, you find potential patients everywhere. Whether you’re on an airplane or on a romantic dinner date, we’ve all heard those famous words, “Is there a doctor in the house?!” Here are some of my favorite “patient” encounters.

The best friend curbside. I was playing ball with my boys – that’s right FIFA on the PlayStation – when my buddy drops the question, “So listen man, you’re a doctor, right? I need some advice about my knee; it’s been killing me! I landed weird after jumping during soccer the other week, and now it’s been aching ever since.”

Assessment and Plan: 27-year-old man, clearly delusional as he thinks I’m a doctor, presents to FIFA night complaining of right knee pain. Obviously, he should rest, ice it, use compression, and elevate the leg, right?

He continued, “So I went to my primary care doc, and he told me to rest, ice it, use compression, and elevate the leg! Isn’t that the dumbest thing you ever heard?” Uh oh, I couldn’t blow my cover, “Yeah totally … maybe you should get that checked out!”

The jacuzzi. Practicing your interviewing questions for your Step 2 Clinical Skills exam can be a drag, so my roommate and I decided to hop in the jacuzzi of our apartment complex: cold iced teas in one hand, First Aid books in the other. The jacuzzi was packed, but we stayed in our own world practicing cases. Next thing you know, the gentleman next to us asked for a consult! “Hey, bud! Luckily I don’t have the discharge when I pee like you’re buddy over here, but I got this mole on my back. You mind taking a look at it for me?” Well, no better way to practice than the real deal!

The rugby game. Beaming with humanism, my buddy and I volunteered to be sports medics on the sidelines of a youth rugby game. We figured there would be an official team of sports physicians, and we were happy to designate ourselves as the Band-Aid service. Arriving at the venue, I told my friend nervously, “Dude…I think we might be the only ‘medics’ here.” Five minutes into the game, the whistle blows, “We need a medic!” Yikes. We both run onto the field, praying that the kid is fine. “Hey, are you okay?” I ask the kid, who was lying on the ground, staring absently at the sky. He smiled, “Yup! Just feels good to lay down here.” Phew! The game resumes.

A half-hour later, a gentleman runs up to us. “My wife isn’t feeling too well, can you take a look?” We find the wife, who fortunately looks fresh as a daisy. “I’m just a little tired, I haven’t eaten all morning,” she says. “She usually feels better with a mint,” the husband chimes in. After a full history and advising her to hydrate and eat lunch, we were ready to write the prescription. “Got any mints?” I whispered to my buddy. With that, we gave out our first prescription – a spearmint Altoid!

Daniel Azzam and Ajay N. Sharma are medical students and founders and editors-in-chief, Diary of a Medical Student.

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