MD Spotlight: DrDeVilliers

This month’s MD Spotlight is CrowdMed Medial Detective and Moderator, DrDeVilliers. Originally from and currently residing in South Africa, DrDeVilliers brings an impressive determination and dedication to their CrowdMed cases. Inspired by their father, a Pediatrician, DrDeVilliers chose to study medicine over a choice of Electrical Engineering. Today, DrDeVilliers is a general practice physician with interests in family medicine, internal medicine, allergology and psychiatry.

Growing up, we remember always being told to respect, learn and remember history, that arguably your most important life lessons would come from this. DrDeVilliers successfully brings this same attitude to their approach to CrowdMed cases, siting over-reliance on special investigation as one of the biggest challenges in the medical field today.

“It is often said that ’80% of diagnoses can be made on history alone’ and I see a worrying trend toward decreased emphasis on history, examination and side-room investigations. It is no coincidence that many society guidelines recommend against aggressive investigations and that the field of radiology is “notorious” in their recommendation to “correlate clinically”.”

With passions for indie music, pizza and a certain cartoon cat, we are excited to have DrDeVilliers as part of our CrowdMed community.

What made you decide to practice medicine?

My father is a Pediatrician and his career inspired me to do medicine. Other than that I honestly enjoy the social/human interaction aspect and the academic challenge!

What is your favorite part about practicing medicine?

I love “diagnostication” – using a syndromic approach, keeping a wide differential, having a low threshold for serious diseases and then arriving at a formal and proper diagnosis. This is particularly satisfying if it can be done on informal examination and history alone – then the formal examination and investigation are just to confirm your clinical suspicion.

Having and using the correct diagnostic terminology is something I also find particularly important. Once a disease is properly “labelled” it becomes trivial to research foreground topics such as treatment standards/regimens, experimental treatment options, prognosis etc.

Who is your mentor/inspiration?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His open-minded approach to social issues is profound and refreshing. He is living proof that religion and social equality are not mutually exclusive.

What are your “words to live by”?

The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”.

If you could change one thing about the healthcare system today, what would it be?

Migrate away from a modular, “assembly-line” medicine approach. This phenomenon is very frustrating to patients and healthcare professionals alike. It makes medicine draining instead of energizing.

What are your interests outside of medicine?

“Indie” music, technology, body-building, field hockey, philosophy and physics.

If you could make any fictional doctor a real one, who would you chose and why?

Dr House! I suppose he appeals to the narcissist in all of us.

Do you have a dream project that you would like to work on as it relates to your profession and if so, what it is?

I am very interested in the medicine/technology overlap field. I find it very satisfying to electronically automate common and repetitive medical admin and tasks that distract from patient care. I have recently applied to a post that involves the establishment of a Clinical Information System for one of the largest hospital groups in the country (and also the world) so keeping my fingers crossed!

If someone came to you to ask for your advice on becoming a doctor, what would you say to them?

Medicine is a life challenge more than an academic one. And the road to independent practice is, unfortunately, fraught with “assembly-line medicine”, hierarchy, “type A” personalities, competition and hard (and sometimes seemingly meaningless) work. Dig in, hold on and when it’s all over, be the doctor you always dreamed of as a child!

What is the best piece of medical advice you have ever received?

Doctors are human – don’t pretend you are perfect and admit to making mistakes.

What is one medical myth you’d like to debunk?

My pet peeve is medical quackery – and it has nothing to do with a superiority complex, paternalism, Western vs. alternative medicine etc. The unregulated medical fields are irresponsibly poorly researched and overly expensive. They pander to desperate patients and give false hope & promises on which they rarely deliver.

What made you decide to participate on CrowdMed?

The format on CrowdMed aligns with my personal ethos on the ability to correctly diagnose based mainly on history. Also, it presented an opportunity for exposure to different medical systems in different countries. And, lastly, the diagnostic challenge of solving tough case sis very satisfying.

If you could make any food/dish healthy, which would you choose?

Pizza!

If you could make yourself into any cartoon character, who would it be and why?

Garfield – who wouldn’t want to be a know-it-all that lazes around for a living?!