Classic clinical descriptions of disease: Curing medical education with a dose of the past

Erin S Choi BSA, Sonia Y Khan BS, Laxmi A Chintakayala BS, MBA, Katherine G Holder BBA, Bernardo Galvan BS, Steven L Berk MD


The importance of clinical skills, including obtaining patient history and performing physical examination, has been de-emphasized in the modern medical school curriculum. With advancements in diagnostic technologies, the clinical presentation of diseases in medical textbooks has been simplified, diminished, and largely replaced with detailed pathophysiology and laboratory findings. The implementation of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 has also contributed in pushing medical education toward classroom-based learning rather than emphasizing clinical experience. Clinical skills competency is crucial to accurately diagnose patients and simultaneously lowers health care costs by not relying on unneeded diagnostic tests. To address this gap in medical knowledge, a group of students at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas, have created a website documenting classic clinical disease descriptions written by some of the renowned physicians from the 19th and 20th centuries, including Osler, Flint, Gowers, etc. This website will continue to grow and will be a useful tool for professors, physicians, and medical students.

Keywords: medical education, disease description, medical textbooks

Article citation: Choi ES, Khan SY, Chintakayala LA, Holder KG, Galvan B, Berk SL. Classic clinical descriptions of disease: curing medical education with a dose of the past. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles 2021;9(37):54–59
From: Department of Internal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas
Submitted: 12/21/2020
Accepted: 1/28/2020
Reviewer: Jongyeol Kim MD
Conflicts of interest: none
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