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May 21st, 2015

Think Like a Medical Student — ‘Strong Work’ Solving Medical Mysteries

By In the Loop

If you find yourself stuck on a medical mystery, you may want call second-year Mayo Medical School student George Bonadurer.If you find yourself stuck on a medical mystery, you may want to skip the Google and old episodes of House, and call second-year Mayo Medical School student George Bonadurer. (Just don't tell him we gave you his name.) Bonadurer has won not one, but two, recent New York Times Well blog's "Think like a Doctor" medical-mystery challenges.

Back in December 2014, he correctly diagnosed the "mysterious, matching rash" of a 29-year-old woman and her boyfriend — "just five minutes after the post went up." The couple had recently traveled to Brazil, and that info and a picture of their lesions were enough for Bonadurer to correctly diagnose them with leishmaniasis, a diseased transmitted by the bite of a sand fly. (And we thought mosquitos were bad.)

Earlier this month, he was thinking like a doctor again, when he was the first of "nearly 300" to write in and correctly diagnose a young woman in New York City with late onset Tay-Sachs disease. He'd "read about this disease in a book of unusual cases that had come to the Mayo clinic for help," columnist Lisa Sanders, M.D., writes. Dr. Sanders then goes on to recognize that, "This is actually Mr. Bonadurer’s second win of this contest. Strong work!"

Strong work, indeed. And while it's undoubtedly a testament to Bonadurer's acumen, perhaps it's also a byproduct of similar case study challenges that Mayo Clinic poses. Take, for example, the weekly challenges posted on the Mayo Medical Laboratories website. In a news release announcing Mayo's "PathWays" online case study tool, Bobbi Pritt, M.D., vice chair of Education for Mayo's Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, says the tool presents "a wonderful opportunity here to bring practical case studies from our fellows and residents … to pathology professionals around the world."

It does that by allowing readers to essentially "assume the role of a pathologist" by "evaluating a case, assessing the medical information, and committing to a diagnosis by voting from four possible choices." Once their diagnosis is in, the tool then tells them why they're right, or why they're wrong. “The goal is peer-to-peer education, but we also want to disseminate what we’ve learned to a larger audience in a free online instructive environment,” Dr. Pritt says.

Speaking of free online instructive environments, you can educate us with your comments below, and disseminate this story using our handy social media tools atop this page.

Tags: Dr. Bobbi Pritt, George Bonadurer, Mayo Medical School, Medical Education Stories, Medical Mystery, PathWays

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