Saturday, October 4, 2008

First Year Med Student vs. Instructor

If you've ever been to university, or talked to anyone who has gone to university, you have probably heard about the keeners who try to show off their knowledge by attempting to outsmart their professor. This can vary from asking an on-topic question from an article that was just published the day before to asking a question that is completely unrelated to the subject of the course. The bottom line is, the keener never looks smart; in fact, the person asking these questions are often privately despised by most of the class an often the professor too. On the bright side, hating the keener brings everyone else together, so really, they help to unite a class.

Now, the behaviour I just mentioned generally occurs in third or fourth year, when the undergraduate students have a good fundamental understanding about the area they are studying. Many of these keeners are in fact smart (academically, not socially), and if they are keeners in biology, they often find their way into medical school. The problem is, at this point, they've developed this keener behavior and they cannot stop trying to show off how smart they are. However, what they don't seem to grasp is that they are first years again, not third years who understand the fundamentals. This can lead to a beautiful moment if you have a professor who is not willing to be patient with this kind of immaturity.

Scenario 1

Keener 1: "Question, I see the thymus gland is located on the chest wall, this is different than in a fish, why is that?"

Professor: "Get a life (whispering to himself)...I'm sorry, I'm not a marine biologist, nor do I study evolution. In fact, I'm pretty sure I introduced myself as a medical doctor at the beginning of the lecture."

Note, whispering to yourself is not effective when you are presenting to a class of 300 student and thus, you have a microphone stuck to the side of your head.

Scenario 2

Professor: "Now, can anyone tell me what would make you suspect a pregnant woman is carrying a fetus with a tracheoesophageal fistula (a condition wherein your food pipe, the esophagus, is not a single pipe, but instead is interconnected with your wind pipe, the trachea)?

Keener 2: "Use an ultrasound?"

Professor: "evil laugh...Without using any technology...this is the art of medicine folks, we can't always rely on our toys!"

...nobody knows...

Professor: "If the mother's belly is larger than you'd expect, this would lead me to suspect there is amniotic fluid (fluid in the placenta that surrounds the fetus, it contains fetal waste and also nourishes the fetus too...yeh I know, gross!) buildup, and that is a sign the fetus has a tracheoesophageal fistula!" (because the fetus is not absorbing the amniotic fluid because it cannot swallow it properly)

Keener 3: Trying to prove how smart she is by proving the professor is wrong "Um...obviously you still need an ultrasound because the stomach would also be bigger if the mother was having twins!" self satisfied grin

Professor: "No. You can palpate to see how many fetuses the mother is carrying. Want to try again? Seriously, I can do this all day.

First year med students need to realize they don't know anything compared to their profs...asking questions is great. You are at school to learn. However, trying to show off is arrogant and pointless. It wastes EVERYone's time, including your own!

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