One of the most gratifying parts of our profession is being at a patient's bedside, whether it is discovering an interesting physical finding, confirming our understanding of pathophysiology, teaching medical students or simply listening to the stories that make the privilege of being a physician so clear. Sometimes in the course of busy residency training, or frankly, in the course of a busy academic physician's life, we forget to pause at the bedside as much as we should and would like.
The purpose of the Back to the Bedside initiative is to send doctors, young and old, to the bedside where we belong.
What does this mean for the residents or interns?
First, the faculty are doing more observations of what you do on a day-to-day basis. You will notice this in clinic with the CEX initiatives, and on the floors with feedback forms.
Your subspecialty attendings will be giving more feedback and spending more time at the bedside, too.
The chief residents will be helping the initiative along by observing teams doing work rounds, emphasizing physical exam components during AM report, teaching physical diagnosis to medical students, and giving tips on how to improve your bedside teaching.
As house officers, you have a role to play, too. Try some of these suggestions:
Do patient presentations at the bedside (not outside the door) more often.
Take your medical students to see physical exam findings—rashes, murmurs, Dupuytren's contractures, fundi—more often.
Take another team member with you to have difficult conversations with the patient rather than doing them alone.
Ask the patients to tell you important things about their life histories, even if it may not seem immediately pertinent to their hospitalization.
Take attending physicians with you to the bedside. They love medicine, too!