But sometimes, medical school can transcend these pretty simple traits and become something so wholly unbelieveable, so amazingly ridiculous, that it reminds me why I am so privileged to be experiencing this torture in the first place. How, you ask? Let me explain.
As part of our two week integrated block, we were required to complete a practice OSCE exam (I have no idea what this stands for - Openly Stupid Clinical Exam? Only Schmucks Choose Eel? Odd Sluts Choke Ears? No clue.), which involves the medical student, three standardized patients (i.e. a random sampling of the wasteland of failed actors), and a camera recording our every moves. Yes, we had to "see" three different "patients", take focused histories of their "presenting situations", perform necessary physical exams, and attempt a diagnosis and/or formulate a plan for their "problems." All the while, we are being videotaped faking sympathy to patients who are faking illness, and trying our best not to fuck up all the physical exam skills we don't really know how to do in the first place. Needless to say, this has potential for disaster.
Interestingly, my initial run-through of this test did not yield anything too ridiculous to report. OK well nothing too bad. On two of the three patients I struggled mightly to get the leg rest thing to open up from under the patient's bed (one was completely stuck but the faint remnants of my manhood forced me to struggle with it for a minute before giving up, and the other gave so easily I pulled the entire leg rest off the bed before I could stop anything, which led to large clanging noises and laughter from the supposedly gravely ill actress - nice job staying in character, lady). I'm pretty sure I gave one patient the stunningly intelligent feedback of "cool beans" after learning she had no other complaints. I'm also sure that while taking a sexual history of one patient, I responded to his "oooh well it's been a while - too long!" with a "ya man I hear ya, me too." And I know I didn't know what I was doing for a lot of the physical exam stuff, but I figured I had gotten pretty good at faking that I knew what I was doing and just going through the motions, so no worries. But nothing completely and utterly horrible. Or so I thought.
Today we received the videotape of our OSCE, to be reviewed over the weekend and talked about in a session next week, as well as a feedback form from the actors themselves. Like I said, I wasn't really expecting much in the way of anything in the feedback. I quickly scanned the numerical data to make sure I wasn't completely incompetent. Check (surprised? Not as much as I was!). But then I noticed something...Yes, something in this report caught my eye. It seemed like one of the actresses, who I vaguely recalled as being the young but not especially attractive woman with "chest pain" (the same woman who had a good laugh at my attempts to provide her with some leg comfort), actually wrote something in my comments section. What follows is, verbatim, her critique of my skills:
"I felt awkward when the student was listening to my lungs on my chest; each time I took a breath he rolled his eyes as he closed them and tentaively did the physical exam."
Did she just write something about breathing and rolling eyes back? Was she implying that, with her chest exposed (bra on), I was becoming aroused while I poked my stethescope all over said chest - the rolling of the eyes a sign of something more? That I was having all sorts of kinky and dirty thoughts? That I was preparing to show her my 'O' face? That all I wanted to do was thrust myself ontop of her and do the Shasty McNasty (bringing back a classic!), videotapes be damned?
As pointed out by an astutely observant friend of mine, she might as well have just written "As he did the physical exam, I couldn't help but wonder whether his massive boner would bar him from getting close enough to take my blood pressure, and whether he would have to leave the room partway through the interview after having some sort of 'accident' involving his pants and his dirty imagination."
The irony behind it all was that I was actually trying to do my "I'm intensely focused on the task at hand and I am 110% committed to hearing every ounce of noise that emanated from her lungs with the hope of making the appropriate medical diagnosis" face. As it turns out, this face is the same as my "Ms. Portman is waiting for me, naked save for some body parts covered in whipped cream" face. Needless to say, this is probably something I need to fix. The lesson behind all this? When you're faking it, be sure you know what it is you are faking.