It’s not uncommon, and other medical leitworts you find yourself saying over and over again

In every job, there are phrases you find yourself using over and over again. Like so many diffuse phenomena, the Germans have a word for this: Leitwort. It translates as “leading word”, and is similar to the more commonly known term leitmotif. Originally used by Martin Buber in the context of biblical study, it was all about looking for the keyword that would guide you through the passage being studied. Doctors have their own leitworts, and every specialty has their own distinct variations. Recently, a gynecologist on Twitter started the hashtag #medleitwort, asking her fellow physicians to share the words they find themselves saying day in and day out.

What’s your specialty-specific phrase that you say more than a few times a day? As a gynecologist, mine is “Scoot down a little more…a liiiittle bit more” about 20 times a day. What’s your specialty’s leitwort? #medleitwort #medtwitter #ObGyn— J’Leise Sosa MD, MPH (@drsosaobgyn) January 31, 2018

Here are some of the responses shared on the #medleitwort hashtag.




Emergency Medicine:

Or ‘if you don’t calm down i’ll have to call security’

or ‘what else have you taken?’

— mina naguib (@mina_el_naguib) February 1, 2018

as an ED f2 I liked “we’re really good at finding life-threatening emergencies, and everything today suggests that’s not the case, but if things change for the worse, come back and we can start from scratch”— Doug McKechnie (@ldndoc) February 5, 2018

Intensive Care:

In clinic: “Big breaths in and out through your mouth.”

In ICU: “CAN YOU OPEN YOUR EYES? SHOW ME A THUMBS-UP!” Also, “We’ll get you feelin’ right as soon as we can.”

In lab: “Well… it all depends….”— Josh Fessel MD PhD (@JoshFessel) January 31, 2018




Physical Therapy:

“I know it hurts now but if we don’t move it, it’s going to hurt more later” — MissVegas89109 (@MissVegas89103) February 3, 2018

Published February 2018

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