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Sometimes, I ask medical students to use a consultation from a different perspective to gain something other than the overt clinical presentation, and then to write a story or a poem (or a piece of music, a song, visual art) based on, and stimulated by, their observations. This allows them to concentrate on other aspects of the transaction without having to exercise their clinical acumen. It is a chance to observe more particularly the non-verbal language of both the patient and clinician, to note their interactions, the position of the chairs, the dynamics of the room, and the impact of another person, partner, parent, friend and child. What might the student gain from this approach? Additional information from the patient, certainly. Perhaps more insight into the effects of the circumstances on the patient, the physician and the companion. Perhaps an increase in self-awareness. These are all aspects that experienced clinicians will work into their consultations. The more so by giving patients time to tell their stories. But the …
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