When practicing medicine is like playing with a Shape-O toy, and what to do about it.
You have probably seen this toy before. It’s the Tupperware Shape-O, a tool for teaching toddlers how to match shapes to the holes they fit in. It reminds me of how new doctors learn to recognize illnesses based on their characteristics. Sore throat, fever, swollen glands: ah, that’s strep throat! Fatigue, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold—must be hypothyroidism! With as much enthusiasm and delight as a young child finding the right hole into which to insert the triangle or the square, we learned in medical school to recognize the patterns that would lead to a successful diagnosis. (more…)