Project Run Away
Ah, summer time. The days are longer, the weather is beautiful, and a new batch of third year medical students are thrown mercilessly to the lions (and by lions I mean…lions – there’s some crazy shit that goes down at the hospitals these days, people –OK that made no sense at all…moving on). With that in mind, I thought I’d do a little public service and guide these new third year students in the one arena that no one talks about but perhaps yields the most anxiety: fashion. Don’t let my shoddy and immature wardrobe fool you – I am a master of medical fashion. Since I am too ridiculously attractive to actually model (the tragedy of humiliating all of my lesser co-models is just too much to bear), I brought in one of my good buddies I met on Google Image Search to model for me, and I will point out some key elements of his look for you:
1. White Out- It is no doubt a testament to the longevity of the white coat that it can remain some shade of white after all sorts of grime, excrement, sexually transmitted diseases, urine, and other quality patient spewage ends up on it during the course of any given day. If you think the bedspreads of your average Las Vegas Motel 6 are bad, I bet a microscopic analysis of your white coat would yield enough questionable material to make the CDC squirm and Monica Lewinsky kneel for joy (a little retro 90’s humor there…for the kids). So wear that white coat with pride, because it is going to take a lot of pride to explain to your significant other that you got syphilis from the white coat and not from that slutty nurse on the Peds floor. In fact, it’s remarkable how over the last nine months my white coat has gradually shifted from a blinding white towards a healthy shade of gray, with some yellow around the collar. It’s also remarkable that this nastiness still hasn’t made me feel bad enough to wash the damn thing more than once. I would like to point out, for the ladies, that my bed remains sparklingly clean and large (large enough for two or, dare I say it, three people). OK I’ll stop.
2. Shoes – You are going to be on your feet. A lot. You know, when you’re running to the hospital cafeteria to get coffee for your residents, when you’re running away from the hospital cafeteria after a bout of explosive diarrhea (yet you still go for the pollo bowl day after day...remarkable), or when you’re running right into a wall because you weren’t paying attention to where you were going in the first place. The trick, then, is comfort over style. Unfortunately for me, The Man (in this case taking the shape of…well pretty much everyone) won’t let me stroll around in my most comfortable foot attire, flip-flops, which means I had to do some exploring before coming up with the right shoes. And, with a hint of sadness, I am forced to report that those shoes are clogs. Yes, they look kind of stupid and you might be mistaken for a Van Der Slutwhore Danish beast from time to time, but they are pretty comfortable and you can move your feet in and out of them while standing for seven hours doing nothing during a Whipple procedure. Of course, I should note that after emitting such a strong and foul odor from your socks after taking them out of the clogs during the surgery, you will find that clogs also great for running away from people too, as you will no doubt be desperately fleeing from your angry residents.
3. I just wanted to point out the fact that this man has no penis. Just look at him. That is all.
4. Over The Shoulder Boulder Jackass - Among the many mistakes that third year medical students are prone to commit, this one is arguably the worst offense: the dreaded "I'm going to wrap this stethoscope around my neck because it looks cool and it makes me look like a doctor" maneuver. Let me clarify two things for you. First, you will never look cool. That's why you are in medical school in the first place and not working for a top secret government agency kicking terrorist ass (Am I allowed to say that I have a non-sexual crush on Jack Bauer? There, I said it anyways. And yet, somehow I’m still single.). Second, if all it took was wrapping a stethoscope around your neck to make you look like a doctor, then I wouldn’t have spent the last three years complaining about how miserable my life is and just wrapped the damn thing around my neck. I used to think that it was pretty harsh of residents and attendings to give medical students crap for this behavior, but now that I've been around the block (fine, I've admired the block from a safe distance) I understand why they get so upset: We don't have the slightest fucking clue how to act 99% of the time, so faking like we look like we know how to act only makes us look even stupider 100% of the time. In other words, just shove the damn thing in your pocket and end it.
5. Respect – History is filled with lines. The Mason-Dixon Line. The Mendoza Line. The Line of Coke snorted by our current President in the days of yore (with the off chance that yore includes yesterday). With these lines in mind, I thought I’d introduce a new one: The Respectability Line. Below this line, your white coat will flow gloriously down past your knees, affording you a level of respect (i.e. women) you probably do not deserve but will receive regardless of the circumstances. Above this line, you are cast away with the other medical students, respiratory technicians, pharmacy technicians, and Beverly Hills manicurists forced to wear the dreaded short white coat, which, much like the love children of Kevin Federline and Britney Spears, will not be garnering much respect (i.e. women…or anything for that matter).
6. Facial Form - Wipe that stupid grin off your face. Nothing says “I want to punch that prick medical student in the face” quite like a stupid “Golly gee willickers I’m just so happy to be here and learn and be involved and do all your scut work” smile. OK maybe that’s just me. I need a vacation.
7. Clipboard – It is hard to keep track of all your patients and keep your notes organized without one of these trusty clipboards at your disposal. They let you hold onto everything from lab reports to progress notes in one convenient package. They also let you read the sports section or admire a selection from your vast collection of hardcore porn during rounds while still making it look like you are intently focused on knowing every detail about your patients. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Just so you know, it is actually t-minus one year and two days before I can start prescribing medications.
8. The Pocket – I have saved the most important part of the puzzle for last. As the third year medical student, you are expected to come in handy. Since you don’t know how to actually do anything, “come in handy” really means “make it so that we don’t have to get stuff ourselves”. Practically speaking, this means that you must have the following items shoved into any and every pocket at your disposal or risk suffering a fate worse than death (this fate may or may not be referring to a blind date with me): enough pens to supply a small army of residents, a ruler, pencils, a reflex hammer, the Pocket Medicine book, your trusty PDA, your stethoscope (uh huh), extra progress notes, extra radiology forms, porn, extra order forms, Maxwell’s, rectal lubricant, gauze, scissors, surgical tape, your badges, more rectal lubricant, notes, assorted prescription guides, scratch paper, whatever remains of your dignity, the latest articles from JAMA, lucky charms, buckets of rectal lubricant, the Classifieds section (wishful thinking), a patient census, an ophthalmoscope, a tuning fork, a regular fork, and, of course, extra porn. In other words, if you are able to wear your white coat and stand up at the same time, you do not have enough stuff in your white coat. Stop whatever it is that you are doing and report to the nurses station for immediate refills of rectal lubricant and porn.
There you have it, fashion advice from the fashion guru himself. Go forth, young third years, and remember: it’s not how smart you are that counts, it’s how good you can fake how smart you are that counts. And dressing smart is half the battle. Sorry, GI Joe, knowing is overrated.