Bowel Sounds

Monday, November 8, 2021

In January, as I prepared to start my traditional “third year” clinical clerkships, I was feeling nervous. In particular, I was feeling nervous about my physical exam skills, which I worried had been underdeveloped as a result of the pandemic. With the closure of practice spaces, like the Kanbar Center, and the cancellation of opportunities to put these skills to the test in the clinical environment, I feared that once I was in the clinic myself, I would flail. So, over the holiday break, I dusted off my stethoscope and rounded up my three kids – ages 9, 7 and 5 – for a review session of the complete head-to-toe.

My kids were excellent standardized patients at the beginning, but by the time we got to the abdominal exam, they decided they wanted to get in on the fun. This photograph depicts our collective discovery of bowel sounds – although I had been instructed virtually in the proper auscultation technique, I had never actually heard those gurgles coming from inside of a human. The smile on my son’s face says it all!

I consider this moment to be just one of the many unsung upsides of being a parent in medical school. And even though I’ve auscultated plenty of bowel sounds by this point, I’m still grateful to my original practice partners (and their intestines) for helping ease me into clerkship year.