The vanishing art of doingBMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k5326 (Published 03 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:k5326
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My interest was piqued by 'The vanishing art of doing', a piece advertised on the front cover of the BMJ. I was not sure what it would be about, but it sounded interesting. I was disappointed. The author's premise that 'some of the medical students' he comes across 'struggle with simple tasks' is simply a vague observation that does not justify space in the journal. I haven't noticed a decline in skills in young doctors, but that is just my vague observation. Outcomes for almost everything are much better than they used to be. How does that marry with declining practical skill levels? As an non-medical example, have a look at a game of football or rugby from the 70s and compare it to one from the present and see what you make of the skill levels. They are barely recognisable as the same game. He goes on to make a fairly common assertion among people of a certain age, that school is not what it used to be and is the worse for it. I wondered when he last spent a few hours in a modern primary or secondary school? I don't recognise the environment he describes from the schools my children go to. Quite the reverse. He also comments that 'physical contact no longer seems necessary for diagnosis' as if this was a bad thing. People dislike being disrobed in front of and intimately touched by strangers, no matter how well intentioned. They don't get comfort from it. One of the advantages of modern diagnostic imaging is that perhaps people don't have to be stripped and prodded quite so often. If the BMJ wishes to publish unvalidated musings on medicine and life in general, that is the editor's perogative, but don't 'click bait' it on the front cover.
Competing interests: No competing interests