Longtime NPR fans know that “Car Talk” was one of its most popular shows. A friendly mix of mechanical musings, bad jokes and brotherly banter, the radio show ran new episodes for 25 years as siblings Tom and Ray Magliozzi tried to diagnose exactly what ailed their callers’ rides.
Now the diagnostic MO of the pair, who were known as “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers,” is being taught to medical students to sharpen their clinical reasoning.
Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal, a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, grew up listening to the show with his father. He told NPR, “One day I said to myself, ‘My goodness, these guys are doing the same job I have.’ They collect the data, define the problem and pick from several solutions. That’s essentially what a doctor does.”
In “Car Talk,” callers detailed their car troubles and the duo dissected what it could be, discussing the car’s history and how it might be fixed.
Dr. Erika Goldstein also has students listen to the show and discuss its automotive issues to help fine-tune their clinical reasoning. “It decreases the intimidation factor. None of them are supposed to be car mechanics, so they’re not afraid to make mistakes when they’re talking about cars,” she told NPR.
Dhaliwal detailed his use of the show to better understand diagnosing problems and finding solutions in JAMA. Naturally the article is titled “The Mechanics of Reasoning.”