Dear Third Space…
I dislike my anatomy lab partner, but I dislike confrontation even more. Do you have any suggestions about how I can passive-aggressively voice my displeasure?
Silent Rage Behind the Scalpel
The important thing to remember when donning the blue scrubs and gown is to remain professional. As we learned during ITP, being professional involves not raising your voice, not using your scalpel to nick your partner’s forearm, not burying fat in your partner’s hair, not naming your cadaver after your partner, not spraying formalin in your partner’s locker, not hiding your partner’s pants in the changing room, and not taking a hammer and chisel to your partner’s glutes.
It is also important to recognize that every medical student in the anatomy lab is nervous and frightened to be there. Instead of making assumptions about your partner’s expectations regarding anatomy lab, take the time to talk to her about them.
A good place to start would be to ask her what brings her into the anatomy lab today. Try to obtain her explanatory model for why she thinks she is here. It is also important to make empathic statements. If she accidentally cuts the phrenic nerve, you may say, “This must be hard for you. (Idiot.)” Try to make your questions non-judgmental, and make the transitions natural but clear. Perhaps while she is dissecting the liver, ask her about how many drinks she had before lab. While she is looking for the bulbospongiosus muscle, inquire “men, women, or both” and what she is doing to protect herself. While you both dig through fat, tell her she should exercise more. Try offering advice about STD testing, AA meetings, or birth control in passing, just to let her know your door is open for additional questions. Ask her how many children or grandchildren she has, and what she is most looking forward to doing when she leaves the anatomy lab.
No matter what, it is important to maintain an air of professionalism and understanding. Remember, not all of this has to be accomplished in just one session. Sometimes you may have to repeatedly broach sensitive issues on follow-up meetings until she eventually gives you satisfactory answers. The partner-partner relationship is a unique, delicate, and long-standing one and should be treated as such.
Third Space, Department of Human Resources
Forget professionalism. Not all of us can be fortunate or good looking enough to experience the magic that happens when gloved hand touches gloved hand across the retropharyngeal space. For some, anatomy is only leaking bile and bitterness. But don't fret: Third Space Has Answers.™ Since you're probably as busy as you are spiteful, we've prepared a list of ten, simple ways to show that you put the marginal pass in passive-aggressive.
- Poke your partner constantly with a hemostat while asking them to explain the concept of referred pain.
- Quiz your partner on the muscles of facial expression, but focus only on those responsible for frowning, grimacing, and incredulity. Ask aloud, to no one in particular, "What muscles help you roll your eyes?"
- Grasp your partner firmly with your hands, and look into her eyes. Once you've subdued her with your gaze, put a freshly-gloved hand to her lips, quietly whisper, "Shhhh… It's going to be okay… okay…" and start to gently stroke the side of her face.
- Stand in your partner’s spot. Pretend that it was always where you stood. Start to weep softly if she challenges your certainty.
- Stare. Just stare. Don't look away if she catches you; just shake your head sternly from side to side and begin to mutter the names of muscles, menacingly.
- Periodically scream out, "Oh my gosh, Terrible Anatomy Lab Partner, that was so inappropriate!"
- Grab one of your tutors. Explain that your lab partner would love to give a presentation to the whole room on the brachial plexus and that she thinks she could do a much better job than the tutor did earlier in the day.
- First, ask if you can borrow your partner’s scalpel. Next, ask if you can borrow her scissors. Continue to ask for and take every imaginable tool, briefly looking at it, shrugging, and placing it in your apron. Do this until your partner is out of tools.
- Offer to tie her apron. Tie it just a little too tight, until she says something like, "You're hurting me!" Laugh maniacally as you apologize. Extra points if you have to wipe tears from your eyes and/or her eyes. Repeat the same ritual daily.
- When learning the cranial nerve fibers, bust out your best mnemonic: Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says You Are Such A Jerk! Swear that it's the mnemonic that everyone learns, and tell her to look it up on Wikipedia. Change Wikipedia accordingly.
Lastly, here are two faux pas recently made by amateurs in passive-aggressivity that you shouldn't recapitulate. First, don't ask “why there are so many questions” about your classmate. The only questions will be about you. Second, don't insist that your classmate is “so nice” that they will “buy everyone doughnuts.” None of us are nice, or we wouldn't be in medical school.
Otherwise, be safe, do no (permanent) harm, and enjoy!
Third Space, Department of Quibbles and Quarrels
We're learning how to physically examine patients this year, and although I practice well on classmates, every time I see a real patient I get nervous, start dropping my exam tools all over the floor, and forget a million things. Last week I almost poked a patient in the eye with my otoscope, and then I tried to examine the oral cavity with my tuning fork. What can I do to improve?
It’s important to keep in mind what you learned the first week of medical school: patients are people, too. Your problem is that you’re treating your patient encounters differently from your interactions with other people.
The next time you have to examine a patient, pretend you’re on a date. Start by looking deep into his eyes. Whisper sweet nothings into his ear. And then his other ear. Tell him to smile at you; if things are going well, maybe ask him to show you a little tongue. Remember to say, “Try to resist me,” as you push his arms away.
If the prospect of a date is also making you sweat (girl, get a hold of yourself), imagine that you’re just hanging out with a friend, watching TV. “99,” you might throw into conversation. “No ifs, ands, or buts.” Since all good friendships are based on reciprocity, you should share a part of yourself with your patient. After you palpate his abdomen, for instance, invite him to listen to your bowel sounds. This will foster good will. If you’re feeling ambitious, you may even attempt some light humor — perhaps tease the patient for hogging the remote.A final word of advice: should you still find yourself failing miserably, do everyone a favor and make the exam short. Pick one arm and one leg to examine. Listen to the heart and lungs together. Ask the patient to draw a digital clock.
And don’t forget to drown your sorrows in Calstat after you leave.
Should I put my MCAT scores on my résumé?
Here at Third Space we get a lot of questions about what and what not to put on your résumé. We’ve compiled a guide of all our advice in one place.
Résumé Guide: DOs and DON’Ts
45T — DO
<45T — DON’T
Bra size (female):
<36B — DON’T
>34D — underline, bold
Bra size (male):
DON’T. PLEASE DON’T.
Public high school — DON’T
Private school (non-douche) — DON’T
Private school (douche) — hey, couldn’t hurt.
You love your bros — DO
You want this job — DON’T
Hung jury and/or blonde victim — DON’T
All others — probably shouldn’t.
Founded an anti-poverty nonprofit — DO
Pot dealer — DON’T
Summer global health experience:
Worked with orphans — DO
Work made more orphans — DON’T
Cancer research — DO
Diabetes research — DO
Kitten glaucoma research — I mean, if you really need to fill space.
You slept with your boss — DO
You slept with your boss’s daughter — DON’T
Good luck applying!
I've been preparing for quite a considerable time to be a dermatology gunner. However, I recently realized that this specialty involved far too much, "Would you please allow me to part your buttocks so that I can inspect your perianal psoriasis?" and disappointingly little, "Don't worry; we can get that blemish taken care of in time for your beauty pageant." What should I do?
Dear Skin Deep,
Did you think Dermatology was going to be mostly working on pretty people and their perfect skin? Why would people with perfect skin go to a dermatologist, unless they were also having an affair? How many affairs were you planning on having? I think the best answer to your question is to find a specialty that makes you happy, even if it comes with as few as one affair or two less hot affairs. That’s what it means to love your job. Good luck.
Recently, it has come to my attention that the world will end in 2012. I am currently on a trajectory that leads me to graduate in 2014. What should I do?
Fearing For Our Collective Kin
FFOCK! You raise a good point. If none of us are on track to graduate and if all of us are on track to graduate from our lives, then we should be reckless. Lift your nose from the grindstone and smell the roses. Everything will smell good now that your nose is not pressed against a grindstone.
Start small. The next time a résumé-building opportunity arises, do not take it! The next time a physician asks if you would like to shadow him, say, “No, I would not!” Then get really reckless. Delete every "News You Can Use" and start a mailing list called "News You Can't Use." Apply for an OEP summer fellowship to work at Olive Garden. Get a 210 on your boards. Sign up for a joint degree at the Extension School. Watch missed lectures at 24x. Tell your Society Master that you plan to match into scramble. Also give him a draft of the Dean's letter that you wrote for yourself. Repeatedly ask your tutorial leader for his or her qualifications. Miss a mandatory tutorial and send an email that says, "Sorry, I was in the bathroom." Upload pictures of you and your family to Scholar Locker under the description "Important Physio Resources." In your tests, answer all questions with citations to pages in First Aid. Ask your PD1 patients to fill out your PD1 template form for you. Send an email to Paul Farmer suggesting he adapt to the new century and rename his course "Social Network Medicine." Start a Ponzi scheme to steal your classmates' Crimson Cash. Ask the course directors to arrange a patient clinic featuring you discussing a disease you think you might have. Ask the same question over and over again in lecture. Bring a pillow and alarm clock to lecture; then, ask the lecturer if he or she can quiet down. If you are a third year, bring a boombox to the hospital and blast Top 40 music in the hallways while you fill out charts. Ask patients to estimate their vitals instead of you taking them.
In other words FFOCK, live life! Until 2012.
Special thanks to our Chief Complainers, past and present: Dan Barkhuff, Shekinah Elmore, Camila Fabersunne, Morgan Hennessy, Michael Lin, Mitalee Patil, Edwin P, Ben Schanker, Jack Varon, Monica Wood, Shara Yurkiewicz