"Is there a doctor in the house?"

In this TV/movie cliche it’s assumed that a doctor–any doctor–will be able step in and save the day when a person is in medical distress. But in this article (one of a series of exposes about USC’s medical school dean apparently hanging out with a prostitute and doing meth with her), the former dean seems to invalidate this notion.

Basically he’s saying, “Don’t look at me–I’m an eye doctor.”

Maybe it was just this one drugged up guy wanting to get out of a scandalous situation, but otherwise, wouldn’t any kind of doctor be able to do more than this guy seems to have done? Or is an ophthalmologist no more useful than an accountant in this kind of situation?

Even an ER doc cranked up on meth might be less than useless.

Pre med students rotate through several areas of medicine before settling on one speciality. They served internships in several fields. Residency is when they focus on one.

I would expect any competent doctor to know the basics. Checking pulse, the airway etc.

I could do CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and other basic stuff, but I’m not sure I’m the ideal person for responding to medical emergencies.

“Hi, I’m a pathologist and I’m here to help.” :dubious:

*years ago I responded to a call for an M.D. on a commercial flight for a diabetic in (thankfully) relatively minor distress. He looked :dubious: about my assistance.

“Do you want me to look at you now…or later?”

“Give her an enema”

Um, no.

Pre med students are college students, taking biology and organic chemistry and physics and hoping to one day get into a medical school.

Medical students train in the basic medical sciences, then rotate through a variety of different disciplines like Ob/Gyn, ER, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, and others. Some disciplines are required for graduation, others are elective.

Few doctors do old-fashioned rotating internships anymore; most go directly into a residency program after Medical School graduation. That’s when their specialization begins, including specialties like Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, etc. etc. After residency, many docs opt to take Fellowships in disciplines like cardiology, infectious disease, hematology, radiation oncology, etc. to further their specialization.

But what kind of doctor would I want in the house?

Obviously if my very pregnant dinner party guest goes into labor it would be nice to have an obstetrician nearby, but who’s going to know whether my chest pains are really a heart attack, or the slurred speech is a symptom of a stroke, rather than just a symptom of being drunk? Would a plastic surgeon even be able to stitch up a gash in my leg without a tray of proper sutures?

Is internist just another name for general practitioner?

When that kind of call goes out, any kind of physician will be better qualified to deal with the problem than the vast majority of other people present. As for that matter will be a few other medical professionals, such as an EMT. And in fact, if someone on stage calls out “Is there a doctor in the house?”, an EMT in the audience is likely to announce emself as such.

Now, if multiple medical professionals all answer the call, then you have to figure out which one among them is best qualified to help. Or more likely, they’ll figure it out among themselves, and might even settle into an arrangement where the most-qualified do most of the work, but the others help.

I read an account once of a medical emergency on an airplane, where a doctor, a med student, and the flight attendants ended up performing a simple but life-saving surgery on the patient, in midair (IIRC, it was something about draining fluid buildup from around the heart). The fully-qualified doctor was of course the most important of the team, but the med student had some of his reference books with him that enabled him to look up how to improvise with some of the meds available onboard.

I know a bone Doc. He didn’t have much to say about skin cancer.

Thus is my entire medical history for the last 40 years.

No, not really.

An internist is someone who has done specialty training in Internal Medicine. That’s a 3 year residency training program covering stuff like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cardiology, infectious diseases, etc. etc. They tend to do a lot of the primary care that needs doing.

A family practitioner is someone who has done specialty training in Family Medicine, also a 3 year residency which in addition to internal medicine topics, also includes orthopedics, pediatrics, ob/gyn, etc. They tend to do primary care also.

A general practitioner is someone who may have done 1 or two years of residency training (usually in the same areas as internal medicine and family medicine) but has not completed a full residency. As such, they are not eligible for Board certification by the Specialty boards. They also do a lot of primary care.

These days, completing a residency and getting certified by that residency’s Specialty Board has become far more desirable in terms of employment and compensation, so there are fewer of the old ‘general practitioners’ out there.