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The Medical Clinic and the Social Clinic

Characteristics in Common

In both the Medical Clinic and the Social Clinic the following problem-solving approaches are emphasized:

  • Careful, informed history taking—a history not only of the present illness, but also a past history, a family history, and a psycho-social history.
  • Personal examination of the issue (hands on physical examination).
  • Further investigation—research, additional testing, additional investigation.
  • Establishment of a list of all possible explanations for the problem—i.e. a list of possible causes, possible diagnoses.
  • Objective, rigorously critical, comparative analysis of the above list of possible explanations, to determine which possibilities are most likely—i.e. the exercise and practice of “differential diagnosis.”
  • Determination of the most likely diagnosis, including further testing, if needed.
  • Development of a treatment plan that is based on a best available understanding of the root cause of the diagnosis, and that best balances the benefits and risks of the various treatment options that need to be considered.
  • All of the above being done with the thorough involvement of the “patient,” with an emphasis on patient education and inclusion of the patient and family in the decision-making processes.

There are some additional characteristics that the Medical Clinic and the Social Clinic have in Common—characteristics, in fact, that are more important than anything else—i.e. the top priority characteristics of human behavior in both Clinics are:

  • Kindness
  • Altruism
  • Honesty
  • Hard work

A Medical Clinic is useless, if the physicians, nurses, and other helpers do not exhibit the above characteristics. Physicians, no matter how “brilliant” they may be, or how much medical knowledge and experience they may have, are of limited value if they are not extraordinarily kind, altruistic, honest, and hard working. The same is true in the Social Clinic. Although considerable knowledge, even quite specialized knowledge and experience, is needed in both Clinics, that knowledge and experience is of limited value if offered in the absence of kindness, altruism, honesty, and hard work. In fact, for many of the problems brought before the Medical and Social Clinics, the only thing that is needed is kindness, altruism, honesty, and hard work. In fact, often, the cause of the problem has been an absence of kindness, altruism, honesty, and hard work. For all these reasons, kindness, altruism, honesty, and hard work are absolute top priorities in both Clinics.

Every single human being, no matter what their intellectual or physical gifts might be, is capable of being kind, altruistic, honest, and hard working. (Granted, some may struggle more with this than do others. These characteristics do seem to come more easily to some than to others.) This means that every single human being has the capacity to participate in the most important of ways in both the Medical Clinic and the Social Clinic.

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