The value of teaching at the patient’s bedside has been recognized by generations of clinical teachers and students. In today’s complex and fast-paced medical environment, clinical instructors teach at the bedside less frequently than in the past.1,2 When learning the physical examination, medical students are often taught a series of 100+ anatomy-focused maneuvers.3 The “head-to-toe” approach can help students practice complex maneuvers and develop an awareness of normal findings, but it has limitations in emphasizing the diagnostic relevance of the physical examination.4 Teachers should guide students to transition from a head-to-toe physical examination to one used to support or refute potential diagnoses.

Emphasizing the physical examination’s critical role in clinical reasoning can help to support improved diagnostic skills5,6 and may lead to a cost conscious approach to testing. Numerous recommendations in the Choosing Wisely compendium highlight the critical role of the physical...

You do not currently have access to this content.