"Clucking" On The Wards

Clerk is actually pronounced "Cluck"? Together with the art of storytelling

One thing that confused me as I started part 3 medicine was hearing people say "cluck". Because I don't want to embarrass myself and ask someone what it means, I googled the word and nothing came up.

Turns out, "clucking" is really "clerking".

The British pronunciation of the word "clerk" is "cluck". But you are probably a Disney child (someone who grew up with channel 303 on DStv) and know American English more than you know British English which pronounces the word as you know it.

So now you know what "clucking" is.

But that's not the point of this article.

It's a reminder to learn the art of "Storytelling".

In business, Apple has sold the story that it is a premium brand. Same as Coca Cola which has sold the idea of whenever you are sweating and hot, you need a cold bottle of Coca Cola to cool you down.

And the same is true on the wards. To make a diagnosis as a clinician, you need to take a patient's history of why they came to hospital, what made them sick and get information out of them.

You then have to present your findings to the consultant or registrar on your ward round but the way they present, they always emphasise that "You have to tell a story". For example, if a patient presented to hospital with a headache, you have to

  • Get the story behind the headache

  • What might have led the patient to have a headache in the first place

  • Then organise your findings coherently for when you present the patient on the ward round.

Now it is extremely easy to believe that this is a simple thing to do. That you are just going to talk to the patient and all the information is going to ooze out in perfect order and make sense.

If people are hard to deal with, wait till you come across patients.

They conveniently forget to tell you a symptom or information that is crucial to making a diagnosis. And they almost always, conveniently remember it when the consultant is around, which make you look stupid for not asking.

Or if you ask for the duration of a symptom, if the patient is one of our lovely mbuyas, they will say "Zvane kanguva". Try saying "Zvane kanguva" to your consultant during your presentation and see if you will leave the ward round with your confidence intact.

Or the best thing. They refuse to be "clucked".

I digress.

Regardless, I always knew that storytelling is an important skill to have in life. I didn't know it applied this much to medicine and you will do yourself a world of wonders if you tried to hone that skill in one way or the other.

For example, write in your journal, maintain a blog, speak at gatherings. Whatever it may be. That skill will surprisingly come useful in your training to become a clinician.

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