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Teaching and Learning Moments

Rule of Thumb

Possner, Adam MD

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001140
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As we are all well aware, teaching medicine heavily depends on apprenticeship. Usually the “rules of thumb” that are passed along in this process from experienced practitioner to learner do not actually involve the thumb. However, sometimes they come close.

Measure part of a finger,

my resident said. That way

you’ll never need a ruler.

I was a third-year student

starting my first rotation.

I gladly took her advice.

To this day I don’t carry

a ruler or tape measure,

just the distal phalanges

of my two second fingers,

my index for measuring

all manner of skin lesions,

nodules, and other masses,

padded tip to dorsal crease

a perfect inch.

Adam Possner, MD
A. Possner is assistant professor, General Internal Medicine, Medical Faculty Associates, George Washington University, Washington, DC; e-mail: [email protected]

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