Sunday, February 11, 2007

How not to be seen . . . to be a dick

Sorry for the amount of days between posts - things are crazy at the moment as I am having fun working out how to fit everything in. Anybody who would like to post their study suggestions in the comments would be more than welcome. My latest trick is using flashcards, courtesy of an excellent suggestion of one of my friends at uni.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. It has come to my attention that several of my classmates in medicine need instruction in how not to be a dick. In theory, this means that there will be people exactly like this in just about every other medical school on the face of the planet. One of them might read this post, and become slightly less like a dick. Yes, I am a philanthrope.

It is pretty simple:

1) As medical students we are all issued with hospital ID tags so that when we are running around the wards creating havoc and asking questions, people know who we are. They are like our version of a staff ID, and are very important.

However, it is not vitally important to wear this ID tag clipped to your shirt or pants/skirt while you are at the university campus attending lectures/tutorials/sports games, in your normal clothes around your normal university friends. You know you are a medical student. Your friends know you are a medical student. Nobody else really cares. Except if you wear your ID tag. Then they will care that you are clearly either imbalanced or misguided, and will want to avoid you. Now that you have read this, you cannot be the latter.

The med students several rows away will laugh at you. The other uni students will begin to dry retch in front of you. It won't be pleasant.

2) We are all beginning to learn new things, however we all have undergraduate degrees, so naturally some people will have in-depth knowledge that nobody else has, or franky, wants. During the introductory lecture for the subject that is your forte, please resist the urge to stick up your hand and ask a question that would immediately identify you as somebody who either did a research paper in this area, or who has no life. Or both.

Nobody cares. We are all having enough of a hard time grasping the basics being explained to us by the lecturer. We need all of the time during the lecture to be spent pushing these concepts into our aforementioned cheese-like brains. The lecturer, even if he or she is an expert in the field, will know that a left-field and exceedingly difficult question asked in front of the class is meant to make the questioner look clever, or the lecturer look silly. They won't like it either way. Everybody else in the theatre will think you are a dick. Don't do it.

If you can't resist the urge to ask a question, please talk to the lecturer down the front at the end of the lecture. You might both be interested in the same thing and strike up a friendship. Bonus. If you don't want to do this because nobody will see or hear you being exceedingly clever, you are too much of a dick for me to help you.

3) More on the question-asking. (Seriously, what is with medical students and asking questions? Somebody should do a study. Anyway.) If you are an expert in the field, please do not ask excessively simple questions that are also slightly irrelevant at the end of the lecture. Did your parents not pay you enough attention as a child? Was your brilliance not recognised in primary school? Everybody else wants to get out of there. Go down with the other experts and talk to the lecturer at the end. If your question is too simple to ask on your own, don't ask it in front of everybody. (I'm not saying people who genuinely don't understand shouldn't ask questions. What I am describing here is a VERY different phenomenon. Other medical students will know exactly what I am talking about.)

4) Clapping. It's for seals, concert-goers and children singing along to songs. Breaking into spontaneous applause at the end of a lecture on the basics of anatomy is both embarassing for yourself and highly confusing for the lecturer. Can't you just read their minds?

"Why are they clapping? Are they glad it's over? Are they being sarcastic? Did we just let a whole lecture theatre full of dicks into medicine?"

Don't spread the clap. If it is a brilliant lecturer, sure, applaud a little. But like all things, moderation is good. Please.

5) This will be my last and most contentious point. I HATE it when people get up and leave in the middle of a lecture, right in front of the lecturer. Especially when it is an interesting lecture. I just feel so bad for the lecturer when this happens. Seriously, imagine how you would feel if somebody did this to you.

You can turn the tv off at home if something stinks. Your tv doesn't have feelings. Your tv isn't an educated professional who is an expert in their field and has taken time out of their very busy schedule to teach a group of young upstart medical students the basics of their field.

All of our lectures have been excellent so far. Of course, their excellence varies, but I can be confident in saying that none of them have been marginally near awful.

If you don't want to go to a lecture, don't be there when it starts. If you want to get an early start to your weekend on a Friday afternoon, don't go to the start of the lecture. If you are there for the start, you really should stay until the end, unless of course you: go into labour; have a partner who goes into labour; begin to dry retch at the people wearing ID tags into lectures; or you are about to wet yourself laughing at a stupid question. Leaving during the lecture is just disrespectful and rude. Sorry to say it, but it is. You are inadvertently being a bit of a dick.

So that is what I have learnt after my brief time in medical school. Perhaps I am a dick in my own way. But if I am, it won't be for any of the above reasons!

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