Playing Doctor.

The biggest obstacle I am having in this program is confidence. In order to treat patients well, you have to be confident in your knowledge, in your training, and in your ability to make meaningful differences in your patients lives. You have to believe that you can do it. I've had conversations about this issue with my classmates, professors, practicing NDs, and upper-year students. It seems very scary that in less than two years, I will be in the school's clinic and I will be treating real people. My fellow classmates don't feel ready at all; there is so much to learn in between now and then. But what we need to recognize is how much we know now. Look at how much I've learned and how far I've come in my journey to become an ND. I have to acknowledge that even in the mere beginnings of second-year, I know a heck of a lot. Just think of how much more I will learn in a year in a half. Some of my professors have said: you won't think you're ready, but once you enter the clinic and put on that infamous white coat, you'll know that you have finally arrived and that you are ready.

I am slowly building my confidence in my one medical skills and knowledge. This week I had a couple of opportunities to "play doctor"; opportunities that helped build-up my medical confidence.

First off, I've been receiving some medical questions via email from family and friends. Now while I obviously can't treat them, nor can I accurately solve or diagnose their health concerns, I am thankful to have the opportunity to get the medical/diagnostic wheels turning in my head. I start identifying differential diagnoses, referring to my medical resources, recalling information taught in class, and brainstorming treatment options. I know I have a lot to learn, but I am pleased to see that I am "developing" into a doctor.

Secondly, (M)OSCEs were this week. Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) are exams I will preform throughout my remaining two years at CCNM. These tests are used by all health care professions (veterinary, allopathic medicine, nursing, chiropractic medicine, dentistry, etc) as they test the physical and clinical examination skills of the student. My first OSCE (I have to complete three in order to enter clinic in fourth-year) is in December. I will have a patient and under supervision of an ND, I will have to preform a minor and a major physical exam on the patient, stating normal and abnormal findings while preforming the tests. MOSCEs are mock-OSCEs, meaning I had an opportunity to practice preforming physical exams on a first-year student (the patient), while I was supervised by a third-year student (the ND). I thought they went really well, making me more relaxed for my real OSCE in December. I was happy with my ability to meet the time limits and complete all the relevant exams, all the while stating my findings (which I hadn't even studied very well!). MOSCEs are also awesome because they bring the CCNM community together. Bringing first, second, and third years together, I found the MOSCEs to be a great experience.

Thirdly, a couple of months ago I identified a lesion on a family member's arm, suspecting a benign condition, but wanting to rule out a cancerous condition. Well, the biopsy came back and it was benign. It is always appropriate to biopsy skin when in doubt because skin cancers are aggressive and spread rapidly. I am happy that I was able to use my skin diagnostic skills to identify the lesion and then to recommend a biopsy to verify my hypothesis.

Thanks for following along my journey!

Image source here.


  1. Do not worry, you have many reasons to be confident!

    I am sure your OSCE patients, those in the final-year clinic, and the ones you see after you graduate will see real benefits from your expertise and relaxing bedside manner. People will be healthier thanks to you.

    You will do great!

  2. Thanks for your supportive words! I hope your program also provides opportunities to muster confidence in your performance.

  3. Your family member thanks you for pushing her to get a biopsy and is confident of all your knowledge!

    I have someone to look after me ;)


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