4 Ways to Become a Rockstar Diagnostician

A clinician’s work involves complicated and often fast decision-making, the accuracy of which has a direct impact on human lives. Therefore, practicing your diagnostic skills is the ultimate tool that can reduce the number of misdiagnoses, a leading factor in hospital deaths every year.

The 18-second rule is a good principle to be followed; by that time, a good clinician should already have an idea of what might be going on, and it’s supposed to be correct in 4 out of 5 cases. Luckily, this aspect of your professional career can be improved upon, and here are 4 ways to do it:

  1. Ask more questions

Even if you can make a diagnosis you trust to be 80% accurate, know that you’re going to get it wrong every once in a while. In order to increase your accuracy, ask more questions and go as in-depth as needed. In order to do that, realize that always being in a rush will have a negative impact on the accuracy of your conclusions, so take as long as you have to (unless there’s a long queue of patients waiting in the hallway).

  1. Double-check suspicious-looking test results

Although lab mistakes are fairly rare, they still happen in 3 to 5% of cases. It could be due to the machines not being calibrated correctly, contamination, or the plain old swapping of samples due to human error. For example, if a patient’s blood sugar levels suddenly skyrocket without an explanation, run a second lab test to confirm.

  1. Attend a dedicated workshop

Brushing up on your knowledge and expanding your horizons by attending a dedicated workshop is never a bad course of action. According to www.c3ny.org, this is one of the factors that will maximize your chances of getting into a residency program of your choosing.

Apart from that, it will make your diagnostic skills as sharp as they can be, as you’ll learn to recognize subtle clues in a patient’s medical history, all while taking action as needed. As you work with your instructors in a simulated clinical setting, your physical examination and communication skills will also reach new heights.

  1. Seek out as much clinical experience as possible

Apply to jobs that are centered around getting practical experience of working with patients and bringing your diagnostic skills to the next level. Studying books and expanding your theoretical knowledge is fine and well (even necessary), but to truly make a breakthrough in your career, you’re going to need to actively seek out opportunities to practice differential diagnosis. Through your personal experience (and sometimes, unavoidably, through making mistakes) is how you can become a better diagnostician. The cruel reality is that there are no shortcuts and no magic pills to make it happen; it’s hard work, discipline, and dedication. Everything else just pales in comparison.



These 4 ways will pave the way to living the life of a professional diagnostician. Although the road in front of your is going to be long and hard, knowing that your hard work actually serves to improve and save the lives of other people is one of the strongest driving forces a person could ever ask for.

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