“The Clinic”


The thesis, or main idea of this text was the medical student’s gut feeling or intuition that his fourteen year old patient’s injuries, upon further examination, were caused by abuse. Before the examination, the medical student asked the mother of the boy questions pertaining to the bruises that were visible on the boy, and had a gut feeling that the boy was not there for a “stomachache”, as the mother had stated. (Gremmels, 1998, p. 1) Due to the boy’s behavior upon entering the exam room, he was not sure if that was the true reason the boy was there to be seen.

 The conflict here is that the medical student was not using the the knowledge he had learned in his lectures taught by his professor in the physical diagnoses class he attended, but rather was using gut feeling and intuition. “A professor teaching our physical diagnosis class told us we should know 80 percent of the cases coming before us by hearing the history alone. This case was quickly proving itself the undesired 20 percent. I moved to the physical exam.” (Gremmels, p. 4). The medical student is thinking of this because of the information the mother is giving him, for example, he’s normally a very active boy who got lots of scrapes and cuts while playing in the woods, but now is very pale, which suggests that he no longer goes outside everyday, and by huddling on the bed is nervous and quiet.

 The text moves toward the climax, which is the examination of the boy that reveals the markings of abuse, and the medical student leaves to go find the physician and tell of his findings. The physician examines the boy and states that the “U” shaped markings on the boy’s body are from a lighter, and that no other object leaves those marks, which confirms that the boy is indeed being abused and is then admitted to the hospital. “The wheels of a lighter, a disposable lighter, leave those two umlaut marks—nothing else looks like it. It’s almost always abuse in his age group.” (Gremmels, 1998, p. 2) These words from the attending physician to the medical student explained the markings on the boy’s skin.

 The resolution to the text is the medical student realizing that real life experiences come from human interactions, and not only from education learned in a classroom. “Years of lectures, labs, and research could not match the education I received in five days with this single boy.” (Gremmels, p. 5). The medical student came upon an extremely expressive note that the boy had written, which gave some insight to how he was feeling, which cannot be learned in a classroom.

 Therefore, the rhetorical strategy is narration. “Narration may be the most fundamental strategy. We tell stories about ourselves, about our families, and about friends and neighbors. We tell stories to make a point, or to illustrate an argument.” (class handout). Clearly, this article was written as a story to make a point.