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.

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The patient is a 20-something-year-old MD/PhD student with a history of extensive schooling now presenting with frustration at her current lack of progress consistent with being stuck in a rut.



Sadness.  Mr. Wizard, who taught me that you can’t eat more than three or so pretzels because the salt on them dries out your mouth making it hard for you to swallow and inspired me to pursue science as a career died recently. :(


Darth Vader had borderline personality disorder.  If only he had gotten psychotherapy.


Rumor is that they’re planning to get rid of the Hummer H2 because of slow sales.  Now if only they would get rid of all Hummers.  And SUVs and big trucks.


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