Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wrappijng Up My First Rotation

I don't mind saying, writing lately has been tough. Up early and off to the hinterlands, then back home with a mind full of "how soon can I get to sleep in order to get up and do it all again." I'm looking forward to my rural community health rotation beginning next week because I think -- I'm not sure -- it means recapturing mornings to write. We'll see.

In the meantime, tomorrow is my last 40 mile drive one-way. That may not sound like much if you're in Denver or Dallas, but up here, off the beaten path, 40 miles is a fairly serious hike. They're good roads, the one's I've been traveling, and well-kept. They have to be, since they're the primary arteries, north-south and everywhere else west of interstate 95. The traffic is generally minimal in the mornings and there are no speed traps. But the roads are winding and one section in particular, between Sebego and Naples, slows down all but the suicidal.

Anyway, like I say, tomorrow I'm wrapping up my first rotation doing primarily osteopathic manipulative medicine and I'm going to miss it. I've truly enjoyed learning how to employ this modality in the real world, with real patients who get up from the examination table, stretch and smile, then say thank you because they feel better. For readers who are familiar with OMM, either by training or from having experienced it, my rotation has focused on using soft-tissue techniques in a fairly wide variety of patient types. For those of you who have no idea what I mean, soft-tissue techniques use a lot of stretching and gentle probing to address muscle dysfunctions, though this is an over-simplification. Still, it give you an idea.

I suspect the most important thing I've gained from working with my preceptor is a greater appreciation for what it means to be an osteopathic physician. Instead of "doing things to" a patient, we've been working with patients to affect physiological changes in the way their individual anatomy operates. I think that's one of the virtues of soft-tissue osteopathy, you're cooperating with tissues that have been altered by injury, overuse, or congenital malfunctioning to restore their functional capability. It's an organic approach that requires the patient be involved as an active participant in treatment. It less about what I can do as a physician and more about what we can do as a team.

(Photo of the view toward Mt. Washington from Bridgton, Maine, copyright 2011 by the author)
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