My third semester marked the point where I began to embrace the beauty of Medicine as both an art and a science.
Pathology as implied by its root words “Pathos” which means suffering and “logia” which means an account of, has a lot to do with the study of the various causes & mechanisms of diseases in the human body.
Pathology is seen as the heartbeat of Medical science. It’s imperative not only in finding out how, when and why diseases evolve, but also in understanding their progression.
We were introduced to the infectious, environmental, genetic & neoplastic basis for a wide spectrum of diseases. Nevertheless some diseases are said to be idiopathic, that is, no known cause. I found learning those basic concepts both fun and challenging.
We all know that viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria are responsible for a lot of illnesses. This course explains the actual roles each of these organisms play in our bodies, and how many of them can be contracted, detected and prevented.
Immunology deals with explaining how the Immune system works. Our Immune system is responsible for fighting against microorganisms and foreign bodies that gain entrance into our bodies. The white blood cells do the bulk of that work and are referred to as the “Soldiers” of the body.
This course was another of my favorites. Just like physical ailments, mental diseases are to be given priority because they affect the overall quality of a patient’s life.
Not only did we learn about cognitive, personality, mood and anxiety disorders; We also learnt about the normal psychological pattern of development from Childhood through Adolescence to Adulthood and even Old age. Then we learnt about how to medically manage everyday happenings like grief, substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse etc
Here we were taught where to draw the line between saving lives and being reasonable. It’s especially important for a Physician to adhere to ethical conducts to prevent unnecessary litigation and the risk of losing his/her license to practice.
Two principles of Medical Ethics that were emphasized upon in this course are:
- Beneficience: A Physician should act in the interest of the Patient at all times.
- Autonomy: The Patient has the right to choose or refuse a particular treatment.
Among other things, I also learnt that it’s unethical to accept certain gifts from patients. And ofcourse, we are NOT allowed to have romantic relationships with Patients…lol.
We were able to learn about diseases relating to different Organs/Systems of the body in more comprehensive details. We also learnt what the risk factors for common diseases (like Hypertension, Diabetes) are and how we can diagnose them. The Cardiovascular system especially proved tough and it’s understandable, because the massive work done by the heart and the great vessels cannot be overemphasized, so are the diseases.
The bulk of a doctor’s job seems to lie in deciding the appropriate medications to prescribe for patients on a daily basis. Trying to understand the concepts of Pharmacotherapy is like learning Latin for the first time. With the frequent emergence of drugs and alternatives to medical therapy, the knowledge of Basic Pharmacology is not sufficient for a lifetime of Medical Practice. One needs to constantly stay updated.
To be sincere, a lot of cramming was involved in mastering the Indications, Classification, Mechanism of action, Side-effects and Contraindications of several drugs. Thankfully, I’m not done learning about them and it gets better with time.
Finally, we got to the course where we had to “act” like Doctors. We were taught how to approach and interact with Patients, take History and perform Physical Examinations. We also learnt the common signs and symptoms for a number of diseases and how to make our differentials (i.e. weigh the probability of one disease versus another). It was demanding, nevertheless fun.
And that brings me to the end of this post. I will be sharing some of my clinical experiences with you in subsequent posts.
Thank you for reading!