Dr. Barbara Bates

Dr. Barbara Bates changed how medical professionals learn the skills of physical examination and diagnosis. And, she developed the role of Nurse-Practitioners. At the University of Rochester in the 1970’s, she came to think that special training could prepare nurses to share with doctors some of the responsibilities of patient care. She also became particularly interested in how physicians are trained to diagnose patients. As she taught the skills of physical examination and clinical thinking, she realized the standard teaching text used by students was not user-friendly. She began meeting with a group of ten nurses and five physicians. They called themselves “The Clandestine Group,” and they worked to completely re-think the teaching guides. The result of their efforts was a hand-drawn, informative, and easy-to-use text for nurse-practitioner students. The book’s organization was based on the popular bird-watching guide by Roger Tory Peterson. Introductory chapters addressed interview techniques, taking notes on health history, common and important symptoms, and assessment of mental health. Specific chapters also made it easy to look up anatomy and physiology. Techniques for physical exams were described in detail. The first edition of Dr. Bates’s “Guide to Physical Examinations and History Taking” was published in 1974. Since then it has become a standard textbook for nursing and medical training programs.