Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate! In honor of this commercial love-fest, let’s talk a little bit about love and dedication.
Few things are quite as scary early on in the med school career than the following: Standardized patient physical exams. This is one of the first examples of when young, green med students actually interact with patients and like, touch them and listen to them and stuff. Granted, these patients are paid, “standardized” patients, but still, actually wearing the short-white coat and interacting with a gown-clad civilian can be really intimidating! So in order to prepare for the real-deal in front of a faculty member, they will want to practice. Multiple times. On you.
Now, before the “bom, chicka, bow wow” music starts playing in your head, let me assure you this is the least sexy activity that comes to mind. 1). You are wearing a medical gown, 2). You are sitting on a noisy, paper sheet that sticks to your legs, 3). You are in the medical school and d). You could at any moment be watched by someone on camera. I know some of you sickos are still on the hook, and there is no hope for you.
Yet, I trucked it on down to the medical school to a clinical exam room to help out my man. The first few practice sessions were fun. I would make up grandiose scenarios. “Oh, no I don’t have any reflexes in my left elbow because my arm was bit off by a Great White while I was doing research on mollusks off the coast of Vanuatu. I lost all sensation post re-attachment.” Funny thing, B didn’t appreciate this as much as when I would would respond to every instance of “Is this painful or uncomfortable?” with a “Nope.” However, with the more practice sessions, the more questions I had.
“Do I really over-pronoate? What causes someone to over-pronate? What would be wrong it you WERE hearing S3 and S4 sounds? Did you just say bicipital groove? That would be a great name for a funk-soul band of MDs?! Please welcome to the stage the rockinest set of white coats outside of the ER, Bicipital Groooooooove!”
The more practice rounds the more paranoid I became. Generally, having my blood pressure taken doesn’t stress me out, but after the fourth time in a row, I started to get anxious. Then, to overcompensate for my anxiety, I started taking really deep, slow breaths. Then my BP rate came back at 60/110, a little lower than normal and I started to feel dizzy. This standardized patient thing is hard work and stressful, especially when not being paid for it!
Well, ok, I accepted payment in the form of frozen yogurt.