Drooling on the Pillow

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Not A Patient, But Plays One on TV 

Had the treat of riding into town with the Goddess this morning. She's usually gone long before I stir my sorry self. She was full of stories.

The job she does on the weekends is working for a certain large metropolitan teaching hospital. They bring in a crew of actors to pretend to be patients. Most of it is just teaching clinical skills. Getting these second year students to talk and examine at the same time. If your doctor is good you never notice it but it doesn't come naturally for most and never comes for some.

They also have a series of profiles of patients with various ailments which the students are supposed to, if not diagnose, at least elicit the relevant information. All the while conducting an examination.

These kids are extremely smart and extremely competitive and have probably never failed at anything. Some have a problem with the second half of the exercise where the "patients" analyze and criticize the students clinical skills and suggest improvements. Most accept the criticism with good grace as they're eager to learn, but some feel they have nothing to learn from a bunch of actors. Those are the ones, of course, who have the most to learn.

She had one kid who examined her with two large jade earrings and a tongue stud. After the examination she told him as nicely as possible that he had to lose the jewelry as his patients would have a relationship with his bling instead of him. He was unconvinced and the patients in his other two rotations didn't mention it. Just warning you what's coming down the road.

She also had a surfer dude. "ma'am, your plantar reflex is awesome!" She had some issues with his grooming as well, but he wasn't offended, merely confused. "I don't know, ma'am, I really duded up for this." A sweet kid, but I really don't want Keanu Reeves poking around down there.

They run a special program occasionally for third years where it is the job of the student to inform the patient he has AIDS. It's called the "Bad News Program".

They know it's play acting, but it never fails to mess up the minds of a good number of the students. She had one guy go all twitchy on her. He started yammering about a situation in his dorm, all the while edging towards the door. "Boy, it's hot," he said and opened it. He got half his body out the door and shouted "You've got AIDS!" and banged the door after himself. Apparently he went directly home and missed a couple days of class. All of the sessions are taped and they saved that one for the "Did Not Pass" example. More than a few break down in tears.

The news is good, overall. She says the vast majority are extremely bright, dedicated, driven, sweet, or at least pleasant. There are exceptions. One of the smartest kids she's seen go through was also the most unpleasant. Smirking, condescending, hostile and abrupt, he obviously thought the whole thing was a waste of time.

Evidently destined for surgery.
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