Monthly Archive for July, 2006

things like this make me wonder about the medical school admissions process

A New Jersey stripper was arrested for illegally keeping human body parts in her home. These parts included six skulls and a severed hand in a jar of formaldehyde. Yeah, okay, we’ve heard of people collecting human body parts before. What makes this story different and of interest to me is this quote from this article about the case:

A former roommate has said the hand was a gift from a medical student who liked Kay’s dancing, while Kay’s mother has said she believed the skulls were bought from a mail order catalog.

Okay, I didn’t know you could order real human skulls from a mail order catalog. That’s rather disturbing. But what’s even more disturbing is the first part of this quote that mentions that the hand-in-formaldehyde-jar was a gift from a medical student. Seriously?!

I can just imagine this said medical student at their interview for medical school.
Interviewer: So why do want to be a physician?
Future Hand-Giving Med Student: Well, ever since I was young, I’ve always collected human body parts and given them to people I liked. I also collect and give animal parts. I save the human parts for the people I really like. And well, becoming a doctor will provide me with easy access to such parts. Um yeah, and I really like helping people too.

Well, I’m pretty sure that if it went that way, that med student applicant wouldn’t be in med school right now. So how, then, did they end up with a med student who had no qualms about stealing a human body part and gifting it to a stripper? And I’m assuming that this hand was stolen from anatomy lab. And it wasn’t noticed? It just seriously creeps me out that this med student performed such an act. We were told over and over again to make sure that we put every little tiny piece of cadaver material in the proper containers so that these people who had so generously given their bodies for us to dismantle would be as whole as possible when they are cremated afterwards. And to violate the noble sacrifice that these people have made for us is just so, for lack of better word, wrong and so un-doctor-like in my book. How did this person, who is obviously psychologically disturbed, make it through the whole med school screening process? I guess one can chalk it up to a temporary lapse in sane thought from the stress of being in med school. But we all face the more-than-we-ever-imagined stress of medical school and we all don’t give severed hands to strippers. Was there nothing in this med student’s application that suggested that they might have problems coping with extreme stress? Or problems with stealing and gifting body parts?

I know that no admissions system is flawless and there will always be those who slip through the cracks. And that med students and doctors are human too and are entitled to their flaws. But where do we draw the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for our health professionals outside of their professional lives when the line between their professional and non-professional lives is sometimes quite blurred? I’m sure (at least I sure hope) that most of these people are normal, well-adjusted, great people who deserve our trust. But at the same time, I’m afraid of the one out of so many who might be seriously disturbed and might actually harm rather than help patients. The existence of even one such doctor is unacceptable because of the amount of pain and suffering they will cause the people and the families that they hurt. So I really hope that they are wrong and that the hand-in-formaldehyde-jar really wasn’t a gift from a med student or that if it was, at least this med student was found out and can get the help they need and/or be removed from med school before being unleashed as a doctor on the unsuspecting public. I might be a little old-fashioned here, but I much prefer a doctor who doesn’t have skeletons (quite literally now) in their closet.

honeymoon (season 1, episode 22)

And you think being afraid of me is a symptom of a serious ailment.

CAMERON: What happened to everybody lies?
HOUSE: I lied.

HOUSE: Did I miss anything.
CHASE: Kitchen sink.
HOUSE: Well, we could certainly—oh, you minx.

WILSON: Be yourself—cold, uncaring, distant.
HOUSE: Please. Don’t put me on a pedestal.

Are you doing anyone besides Mark? It’s a medical question.

Stop looking at the suspiciously empty bottle and look at the screen.

FOREMAN: Checking up on me?
HOUSE: I like all the pretty lights.

His frontal lobe is working better than mine.

The questions were designed to test the operational parameters of his limbic system.

Period? More like dot, dot, dot.

If it works, we’re right. If he dies, it was something else.

So what’s your plan? You take the big dark one, I’ve got the little girl, and the Aussie will run like a scared wombat if things turn rough.

So I’m the guy, but you want the other guy, who by definition, can never be the guy.

CUDDY: I want to run something by you.
HOUSE: I will not have sex with you. Not again. It was miserable that first time. All that desperate administrative need.

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there are four in-laws in my house right now…

…and need I say that I’m not happy about it?  Let’s just say that my sister-in-law is something else.  Something else that I really would like to smash to pieces.  There.  That sure feels better.  Well, not really.

At times like these, I turn to my how to deal with crazy in-laws bible: Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward.  I purchased this book in my dark days of being hurt again and again by my in-laws while still trying to please them, thinking that if only I did what they wanted they would stop hurting me and accept me.  Well, thanks to this book, I now know better.  If for nothing else, this book is a sympathetic supporter, which I did not have in my husband.  It affirms that other women suffer through the same hell as I do and that it’s not my fault that my in-laws are highly unreasonable people.  The book is divided into two parts: the first includes descriptions of the five different types of toxic in-laws and the second part describes strategies for dealing with them.  Strategies include how to set boundaries, how to get out of their negative conversations, and how to get your spouse to understand and be on your side.  It was and is a quite useful book for dealing with my in-laws even though I don’t get to use those great conversation stoppers too much because of the difficulty getting the same point across in a different language.  I do wish that it covered more issues, like how to deal with cultural expectations and conflicts, which is a large part of my in-law problem (even though many would say that our cultures are almost identical) and how to deal with the whole in-law family and not just mother-in-law and father-in-law since I’m having trouble with the siblings-in-law as well.  There aren’t really any books out there that cover these two issues, so this one is the best compromise.  I just try to adapt what I’ve learned in this book to my other issues.  Maybe someday when I’ve found the magical way to deal with these people, I’ll write a how-to-deal-with-in-laws book that covers these points.  At least I can sleep well tonight (with this book under my pillow) knowing that the sister-in-law is leaving tomorrow morning.

top 10 medical student pick-up lines

One of the The only perks of being a medical student is being able to use your status to pick up women.  I say women because this only seems to work for guys.  It seems that most guys are scared off by women who may be smarter than them, so us female med students are out of luck here (for the most part).

10.  [Holds reflex hammer]  Want to see a neat trick?

9.  [Holds stethoscope]  Why don’t you listen to your heart and go out with me?

8.  [Looks for any hint of a tiny insignificant skin imperfection, e.g., a harmless mole]  Has anyone ever looked at that?  Why don’t we go back to my place so I can give you a full exam?

7.  Are you flecainide?  Because I think you just made my heart skip a beat.

6.  For the shy guy:  No words required.  He just plants himself at the local Starbucks with a whole array of books that scream “I’m in medical school” and pretends to study, hoping that the girls will notice and make the first move.

5.  For the exhibitionist: He just wears his scrubs/short white coat + stethoscope around his neck everywhere he goes.  Everywhere.

4.  Hello, my name is Doctor-to-be Bob.

3.  Hello, my name is Joe.  I’m a medical student.  That means I’m going to be a doctor.

2.  The name is Bill. M-S-one (as he flips his ID out of his wallet detective-style).

1.  [When hitting on a fellow med student]  How about we ditch this joint and go study some anatomy? *wink wink*

thank you!

Thanks to Kevin, MD for mentioning humble lil me in his blog.  Check it out here.

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inspirational music for life’s (annoying) little moments 1.3

Yay! No songs about the annoying brother-in-law this week. It seems that now that I’ve decided to drop the whole nice charade (not so much by choice as I simply ran out of niceness), I’ve been less preoccupied with my anger towards him. Which has been nice because now I spend all of my time making his life a living hell. Mwahahaha. But I digress.

As I mentioned in this post, I’m currently super-obsessed with The Count of Monte Cristo right now and especially the anime adaptation, Gankutsuou. So my song for this week is: Jean-Jacques Burnel – We Were Lovers, the moving opening song to Gankutsuou. Through sheer obsession (since I lack the training and the talent), I’ve finally gotten the first 25% of it down on the piano. I’m hoping to be able to play the whole song by the end of the summer, though that’s probably a little ambitious considering it took me a good three weeks just to barely get the first 25% down.

As always, feel free to submit song suggestions through the contact form.

seventeen years old and the king of passive-aggression…

…and staying with us for another three weeks. Yep, that’s right. My lovely cousin-in-law is a passive-aggressor and his parents didn’t bother warning me before I was driven up the wall by his antics (or lack thereof). You see, I’ve never dealt with a passive aggressor before and I had no idea how annoying (to put it lightly) it can be. What I do know now is that passive aggressors and I mix about as well as oil and water do. As in not at all. So, since I was rather ignorant about passive-aggression right up until his parents finally admitted to me that he is the king of it, I’ve decided to write a little something about it today, if only to try to figure out some way to negate his behavior.

Symptom #1: Calling the research project that my major professor and I designed for him “insignificant.” Well, I’d like to see you come up with an idea on your own. No, better yet, I’d like you to tell me exactly why you think it’s so beneath you, who are but an insignificant bug in this pecking order. Yeah, that’s what I thought, you ignorant little ass. You don’t know why because you didn’t bother doing any background reading. Which means you’re calling it “insignificant” because you’re just not interested in it. Well, too bad. Unless you come up with a better idea, you’re stuck with it.
Trait #1: Negative attitude. Passive-aggressors have a constant negative attitude about everything that someone tries to “push” on them because they interpret it as another attempt at controlling them.

Symptom #2: Two weeks into his six week stay here and he has yet to write a proposal for his project, which is required by his teacher before the project can be started. So I tell him to have a draft for me by the following Friday (a rather generous deadline, by the way) to try to jumpstart some progress out of him.
Trait #2: Procrastination. Passive-aggressors don’t like being told what to do or having deadlines imposed on them. So they procrastinate.

Symptom #3: The following Friday comes around and no draft.
Trait #3: Passive resistance through failure to fulfill tasks assigned to them.

Symptom #4: Reason for not having draft by Friday: “You were in your room all day.” Well, have you ever heard of knocking?! Not that the door was even closed. Meaning that there was no “Do Not Disturb” sign either.
Trait #4: Lame excuses for why he did not fulfill his responsibility.

Symptom #5: Sitting there with a mopey-woe-is-me attitude as we have a frank talk with him about our expectations + more of those lame excuses.
Trait #5: Sullenness and argumentativeness in response to expectations.

Symptom #6: He never tells us anything because he sees us as extensions of his parents.
Trait #6: Unreasonable scorn towards authority. Passive-aggressors don’t like authority because they don’t like being controlled.

Symptom #7: Refusal, even after five weeks here, to wake up early enough/modify his morning routine in order for everyone to leave on time for work/lab. Everyone else is always waiting for him.
Trait #7: Trying to exert control over the situation by being perpetually late. This way, he is in control, even if it’s something as lame as what time we depart for work/lab.

I can’t believe I didn’t notice this pattern of behavior until it was pointed out to me by his parents. This is a prime example of how I’ve failed to apply my basic science training to real life. We learned about passive aggressive behaviors in our first-year psychiatry class. And yet I couldn’t see the traits in my cousin-in-law even though they were screaming at me. Too bad they didn’t teach us how to deal with passive-aggressors. They just taught us the catchall treatment for mental health issues: therapy. How do you get a passive-aggressor into therapy anyway? You would have to tell him he needs therapy, which he will interpret as an attempt to control him, so he will conveniently fail to follow your suggestion. What if you order him not to go into therapy then? That should work, right? Don’t I wish. Until I figure out a way to put my king of passive-aggression cousin-in-law in his place, I guess I’ll be counting down the days until he finally leaves.

Sources:
http://www.mcg.edu/students/mentalhealth/PAbehavior.htm
http://www.toad.net/~arcturus/dd/papd.htm
http://www.coping.org/anger/passive.htm

as the lab world turns (episode 4)

BACK STORY: During the summer, the department has a Super Special Undergrad Research Internship program for those worthy of it. There are two such interns in Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor’s lab this summer, both very undeserving of such an honor, but who both got it through Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor’s behind-the-scenes ever so unethical string pulling. Yes, two spots that should have gone to people with near perfect GPAs and much better interview skills went to these two sloths who think they own the place even though they are the lowest of the low on the totem pole. And when these sloths’ sense of entitlement collides with Super Bored Grad Student’s being able to go home at exactly 4:30 pm on the dot, fireworks are sure to ensue.

Ivy League Intern Dude (on phone with patient recruiter person and speaking rather contemptuously): No. Everyone leaves here at four. There will be no one here to help me if I have a patient.
SIDE NOTE: Ivy League Intern Dude routinely doesn’t come in until 9 am every morning and leaves at 3 pm every afternoon. Everyone else comes in at 8:30 am and leaves at 4:30 pm.
Ivy League Intern Dude (to Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor while still on phone): Hey, Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor. Will anyone be here after five to help with a patient?
Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: I’ll be here. I live here. Oh. Super Bored Grad Student can stay and help you.
Ivy League Intern Dude (to patient recruiter person on phone): Yeah, okay. I’ll be able to do it.

Super Bored Grad Student (of course, having overheard everything from her office) bristles at the thought of being at the mercy of a lowly undergrad. No way is she going to let this happen. First, they steal Fellow Lab Scut Monkey’s computer and lab space and act as if it’s theirs. Then they demand that unique log-ins be created for them to log onto said computer because they can’t log on otherwise. Then they use said log-ins to surf the internet all day instead of working. And they think Super Bored Grad Student is going to do their work for them?! That’ll be the day! Super Bored Grad Student would have been content to let it be if they had not dragged her into it. But now that they have, they’re so done for.

Super Bored Grad Student asks to speak with Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor in private and they go into his office and shut the door.

Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: So what do you want to talk about?
Super Bored Grad Student: I want to talk to you about Ivy League Intern Dude.
Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: Okay.
Super Bored Grad Student: Well, I don’t think that he’s pulling his weight here. It doesn’t take more than one person to study the patient. He should be able to do it on his own.
Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: I know. I’ve been noticing that he just doesn’t have a mind for science. I mean, look at his GPA. But what can I do? I had to take him as a favor to his father.
Super Bored Grad Student: Well, I don’t think it’s fair to us or the other intern. I will not stay late to help him with something that he should know how to do. It’s not my job. And I have an appointment today. He needs to stand on his own two feet. That’s what the whole internship is about. That’s why they’re assigned their own projects. It means they need to complete them on their own.
Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: He doesn’t have a mind for science. I don’t think he can do it on his own.
Super Bored Grad Student: I think he can. He just won’t because we’re babying him too much.
Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: Maybe. I’ll talk to him. But I really think that he’s not smart enough. He fell asleep during two of my talks!
Super Bored Grad Student: Well, I just think that it’s really unfair to everyone else. That’s why I brought it up.
Dr. Grumpy Old Major Professor: Yeah. And to think he wants to go to med school. It would be a disgrace to the profession if he actually gets in.
Super Grad Student (thinks to self): WHOA. Did he really just say that? Funny, that’s what I was thinking…

And having accomplished her mission, Super Bored Grad Student strides triumphantly back into her office and resumes her most pressing task of doing nothing for the rest of the day.

Tune in next time for more lab drama.