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The Physical Exam

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Verghese ever since I heard about the Stanford 25 a few years ago. The Stanford 25 is a list of 25 physical examinations that all clinicians should be able to perform. As of right now, I think I can do probably 23/25 with the scrotal exam and bedside ultrasound missing.

Anyways, this new TED talk by Dr. Verghese talks about why the physical exam is still relevant in modern medicine. Not only is it good standard of care and can pick up early manifestations of disease, the physical exam is a transformative experience for both the doctor and patient.

This is definitely a 15 minute video every medical student should see. There’s so much truth to what he says.

I’ve aways been a big supporter of the physical exam. I had some preceptor share the same sentiments to me, and they were often the doctors that connected with the patients best. I’ve also started reading a book called the Evidence-Based Physical Diagnosis (which is most excellent) and started working my way through the JAMA series on Rational Clinical Exam.

So one question I have on my mind, in this age of technology and limited time, is the there still a role for the physical exam or is it a dying art?

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