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Why the Zebra?

Why the Zebra…….

“When you hear the sound of hooves, think horses, not zebras.”

This phrase is referred to often in medical school. The term “zebra” is used to indicate a rare disease or condition.  Medical students are taught to expect common conditions instead of rare conditions when diagnosing patients.

However, we know that “zebras” DO exist. And because of this, obtaining a proper diagnosis and treatment can be more challenging when the condition you have is considered rare, but actually, the condition is just rarely diagnosed. The identity associated with a Medical Zebra was adopted to bring our community together.

It has been suggested that we are not Medical Zebras, but horses of many different colors, instead.

The following stems from a presentation by Dr. Heidi A. Collins about horses. “A horse of a different color metaphorically represents something that may be completely separate from what one originally expected. Frequently, a horse of a different color may be a complete surprise, an unexpected truth or a feature that seems somehow out of place. ~Idioms Unpacked.”