The first thing I notice are the dark circles under Mr. Jones’s eyes.
It’s 4:30 pm on a Wednesday during my third year of medical school. I’m in the fifth week of my family-medicine rotation, and we’re deep into our daily routine: triage, history, physical examination, differential diagnosis, present the case to the attending physician, repeat.
Mr. Jones is a new patient. His face and belly are round, his arms and legs lanky. His unkempt facial hair and calloused hands reflect a life of physical labor that has worn him down. According to his chart, he’s just started an office job. Slumped apathetically in a chair in the corner, he seems apprehensive and hesitant to talk to me. Understandably so: I’m a stranger with the word “student” attached to my name.
“I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve seen a primary-care doctor,” he begins.