I’m a third-year medical student, and I’m starting the second day of my new rotation–a month that I’ll spend with a family physician, Dr. Bauer, in his small, efficient home-based office.
Yesterday, my first day, a young woman named Sara came in for “strep throat.” She had dark Latina eyes, broad cheekbones and a delicate tattoo of the Chinese character for “dream” on her left wrist. She was 17 and seeking out a primary-care doctor for the first time in her life; I applauded her for taking responsibility for her own health care. Her tonsils were big and purple, covered in pus, but the rapid strep test was negative. She also reported a vaginal discharge. Dr. Bauer wanted to do a pelvic exam to check for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). He started her on antibiotics, ordered some blood tests and told her to return today to discuss her lab results and have the pelvic exam.
Now Sara returns with her mother, wanting to know why the exam was scheduled. Impressed by Sara’s thoughtfulness, I tell her that we recommend the test, but assure her that the choice is hers. She looks me in the eye, confidently reports …