As many ScienceBlogs readers know by now, last month Popular Mechanics published a list on their website of “25 Skills Every Man Should Know,” which included such esoteric talents as “frame a wall” and “extend your wireless network.” How these two made the list over such accomplishments as “find tickets to a Hannah Montana concert,” or “pass gas anonymously on an airplane flight” is beyond me, but then again I’m a doctor, not a popular mechanic.
Just for fun I’d like to share my version of this meme, so without further ado here is a list of 25 skills every doctor worth his or her salt should be able to do. The list is in no particular order and is my opinion only. Any omissions or refutations may be listed in the peanut gallery section of this post.
Skills all doctors should possess:
1. Recognize when a patient needs to be transferred to the ICU.
2. Deliver bad news compassionately, yet honestly.
3. Identify a pneumothorax on a chest radiograph.
4. Diagnose iron deficiency anemia.
5. Help a patient stop smoking cigarettes.
6. Diagnose thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which has a mortality rate of 90% if not treated and 10-20% if treated.
7. Distinguish between the various tachyarrhythmias.
8. Explain a disease or procedure to patients in plain, understandable terms.
9. Use the internet to find medical information and references.
10. Know when to speak, and when to listen.
11. Practice what they preach, especially when it comes to a healthy diet.
12. Take a blood pressure.
13. Find enlarged lymph nodes or splenomegaly on examination.
14. Know when to call in a consultant and when to do the work themselves.
15. Successfully treat hypertension, or find a doctor who can.
16. Refer a patient to the right specialist at the right time, or at least within a reasonable time period.
17. Be unafraid to say “I don’t know.”
18. Understand the precious value of time, both theirs and their patients’.
19. View their medical colleagues as a source of support, information and camaraderie.
20. Treat nurses and other staff in a courteous and professional manner.
21. Learn the gentle art of patience, patience and more patience.
22. Keep up with important advances in health care and research.
23. Never let anger, the killer of careers, interfere with the mission at hand.
24. Be able to always, always, have a plan of action to help a patient.
25. Appreciate the unique gifts each physician carries within, and never let a tough day become an excuse to withhold them from those who need them the most.
P.S. I deliberately left out such things as “knowing how to perform CPR” – such mundane tasks are assumed to be universal to all doctors.