UCSD’s Practical Guide to Clinical Medicine

UCSD’s Practical Guide to Clinical Medicine


UCSD’s Practical Guide to Clinical Medicine

A comprehensive physical examination and clinical education site for medical students
and other health care professionals

Web Site Design by Jan Thompson, Program Representative, UCSD School of Medicine.

Content and Photographs by Charlie Goldberg, M.D., UCSD School of Medicine and VA Medical Center, San Diego, California 92093-0611.

Send Comments to: Charlie Goldberg, M.D.


This guide has been assembled with an eye towards clinical relevance. It represents a departure from the usual physical exam teaching tools which, in their attempts to be all inclusive, tend to de-emphasize the practical nature of patient care. As a result, students frequently have difficulty identifying what information is truly relevant, why it’s important and how it applies to the actual patient. By approaching clinical medicine in a pragmatic and demystified fashion, the significance of the material should be readily apparent and the underlying principles more clearly understood. In particular:

  1. Each section is constructed to answer the question: “What do I really need to know about this area of medical care?” The material covered is presented in a concise, ordered fashion that should be readily applicable to the common clinical scenarios that you will actually see in day to day practice. Esoterica has been purposely excluded.
  2. The Web-Based format allows for easy access to information and provides integration of text, pictures, and sound.
  3. Exam techniques are described in step-by-step detail. Special maneuvers that are frequently utilized are also described.
  4. The rationale for each aspect of the examination is addressed and, where appropriate, relevant pathophysiology discussed.
  5. Detailed descriptions of how to function in clinical settings are included. In general, students identify their role in patient care either by trial and error or through the beneficence of more advanced students, residents or staff. This is not particularly efficient and diminishes the potential for learning and fun. The following sections are included to specifically address this issue:

    1. Oral presentations
    2. Patient write-ups
    3. Working in outpatient clinics
    4. Functioning on an inpatient service
    5. Clinical decision making
  6. Pictures clearly identifying appropriate techniques accompany each section. Examples of common pathologic findings are included as well.
  7. Images of gross anatomic correlates (denoted by the “daVinci Icon” shown above) are incorporated within a number of the segments.
  8. Video clips of selected examination maneuvers and findings.
  9. Carefully selected links to other useful websites are available.

I hope that this site helps to make the educational process both fun and rewarding.
As the skills required of a physician cannot be learned from any single source,
I encourage you to make use of as many other references as possible. This should
reinforce basic principles and alert you to the fact that there are often many
ways of achieving the same end (i.e. there is frequently no single right way
of doing something). What follows, then, serves merely as an introduction. I
have tried to capture those core behaviors that define clinical excellence and
will have prolonged applicability, even in a technology driven world. The learning
process continues (I hope) until the day you stop practicing medicine. There
are always new techniques to learn and unusual findings to incorporate into
your personal libraries of medical experience. However, unless you take the
time to build a solid foundation, you will never have confidence in the accuracy
and value of what you can uncover with a sharp mind, agile fingers and a few
simple tools!

Please Note: Medical and non medical practitioners are welcome to use
this site for learning purposes. However, it is not meant as a substitute for
appropriate evaluation of medical conditions or pursuit of an advanced education
through traditional mechanisms. While the authors welcome feedback and comments,
please do not solicit medical advice.

This site is, and will always remain, a work in progress. I look forward to receiving any and all comments/suggestions/feedback (use the link to my e-mail, located at the top of each page).

Charlie Goldberg, M.D.

University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

San Diego VA Medical Center

Jan Thompson

University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

San Diego, CA

September, 2004

Copyright © 2018, The Regents of the University of California.

All rights reserved.

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