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[Perspectives] Getting back in touch

Clinicians and patients are getting out of touch with one another. When I was a medical student, I spent hours with patients, examining them on the ward, taking blood, and assisting at operations. At first I felt clumsy, inept, and embarrassed at the prospect of physical contact, for touch is surrounded by social conventions and taboos that are difficult to break through. But gradually, through practice, I became more confident. Touching people stopped feeling strange. Ostensibly, the purpose of these examinations was to gather diagnostic information that I would relay to senior clinicians.