David Parks, MD
Dr. David Parks, a pediatric pulmonologist and associate professor in the UNLV School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, believes that patient education and establishing rapport with patients and their families are essential to the art of medicine.
For asthma patients, he developed a two-page “asthma action plan” that details what they should do while living with asthma, how to use an inhaler, and the actions to take when different symptoms arise.
“My goal is to have my asthma patients be completely symptom-free and on the least amount of medicine,” he said. “The three reasons why asthma is not controlled is due to compliance–compliance—compliance. This may mean they are not taking the medicine at all, not taking it correctly, or not taking it at the right time. It’s important to teach patients the how and, if they are having problems, to figure out the ‘why.’”
A 1972 Harvard graduate who went to the University of Florida College of Medicine before practicing medicine in the Navy for several years, Dr. Parks knows that a good doctor doesn’t always accept what they’re told at face value.
“One of the things that I teach medical students and residents is how to interact with young patients,” he said. “In response to my questions, sometimes patients and their parents answer what they think I want to hear. I compare their report of symptoms with medication use and pulmonary function and sometimes get suspicious. I teach medical students and residents to always be skeptical. Pay attention to the details. Understand the day-to-day variations. If they are not taking their medications like they should, it may be because they do not understand how to do it properly or perhaps they just cannot afford it.“
After decades of practicing medicine – including a stint with a Navy medical unit during Desert Shield/Desert Storm — Dr. Parks has arrived at some conclusions about medicine.
“As a doctor, you have to understand both the ’science of medicine’ and the ‘art of medicine,’” he said. “The ’science of medicine’ is understanding the underlying pathophysiology of the disease process, developing a treatment plan and prescribing the correct therapy. The ‘art of medicine’ is how you work with and communicate with the patient and how you teach them to control their underlying problem. It is the art of how to use your scientific knowledge to your patient’s benefit.”