Bedside

In 1890 Sir Henry Tate (1819-98) commissioned a painting from Luke Fildes, the subject of which was left to his own discretion. The artist chose to recall a personal tragedy of his own, when in 1877 his first son, Philip, had died at the age of one in his Kensington home. Fildes’ son and biographer wrote: ‘The character and bearing of their doctor throughout the time of their anxiety, made a deep impression on my parents. Dr. Murray became a symbol of professional devotion which would day inspire the painting of The Doctor’

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Medicine is a bi-hemispheric cerebral discipline, both an art and a science. Notably, many clinicians are left-dominant — their strength is logic and reasoning. But a physician ought not have one without the other: art without science; or science without art. Rather, a good clinician will use both cerebral hemispheres and will use them in such a way as to keep them always in a state of equipoise.

That does not, as it may sound, render the physician impotent as a proverbial “hare in the headlights”. The physician in cerebral equipoise can and does decide, making their decisions both according to the best evidence base and with an outlook holistic.

To that end, it is to your advantage to learn the medicine well, and learn it again, and again — to gradually transfer the knowledge from your short-term to your long-term memory. The knowledge should, ultimately, be a part of you and you it. It should be who you are.  And from whence comes good clinical judgement.

Having transferred knowledge to long-term memory, you free-up your short-term memory to deal with the transient and immediate tasks that make demands of our day to day attention. It will also free you up enough to allow your own personal character and style to reflect in the way you practice.

Read far and read wide. Read fiction and read non-fiction. Read art and read science. Keep yourself whole … and you will make wholesome decisions.