Family Physicians' Experiences of Physical Examination

Martina Ann Kelly, MA, MBBCh, FRCGP, CCFP; Lisa Kathryn Freeman, BSc (Hon), MD, CCFP, MPH, FRCPC; Tim Dornan, MA, DM, FRCP, MHPE, PhD


Ann Fam Med. 2019;17(4):304-310. 

In This Article


Contemporary clinical practice is in a state of flux. Family physicians experience tensions between their roles as diagnosticians, technicians, and healers. There are times when information and technological proficiency overshadow emotional engagement and rapport. While acknowledging the advantages technology offers, we should not dismiss physical examination as nostalgia. Rather, it combines the science and art of clinical practice and is an important way of knowing. It is a form of nonverbal communication within doctor-patient relationships that promotes rapport and trust. Physical examination is pathic as well as gnostic. It brings forth various dimensions of our humanity as family physicians.