Friday, June 12, 2015

one last stab at explaining . . . then on to literal fun and games

a reasonable facsimile of my least favorite professor

At the expense of beating a horse on whom rigor mortis has set in, I shall try one last time, briefly though probably in vain, to explain precisely why the test item about which I complained bothered me so much, though I concede that it's really not as much as a blip on the radar screen of life.

Everyone says it's no big deal, and they're all right. Judge Alex says I'm going to make myself crazy if I cannot deal with something this minor, and he's presumably right, too. So I agree after this to let the matter drop . . .

I've already discussed the arbitrary nature of the test item -- about how it was essentially as  though the prof had  plucked a card from a deck, looked at it, then had asked us all to guess what card he had picked from the deck, and had applied zero or two points to each test-taker's exam score based on the ability or inability to correctly guess the card.

Further adding to the arbitrary nature is that  if one were to look the material up at somewhere such as the Mayo website or the Merck Manual (neither of which, incidentally, are text or even sub-text materials for the course) one would find at least seven reasons for not using the barium enema x-ray as a diagnostic tool in establishing the presence or absence of appendicitis. Incidental also is that the two sources I just  cited indicated no priority in criteria for rationale, listed different denominations of reasons than each other, and  listed the reasons in different sequences. Professor Donkey Bungholio gave spaces for five reasons, while the Merck Manual gave eight reasons and the Mayo site noted seven reasons.  So which two or three criteria for which Professor Donkey Bungholio did not space should one eliminate?

Where I'm having the most difficulty expressing myself clearly is in response to the idea that this is one thing I'll never forget, in terms of content, anway. I'll never remember it because I'll never know it. If this were Q1 or Q2, we'd at least get to hear the professor's rationale for his ridiculous test item and equally ridiculous answer in the test review that follows two class meetings after the exam, usually even for finals unless it's the last final period of a year.  But since we're all going our separate ways, we'll never be together to discuss the item with the esteemed [sarcasm font] professor. He teaches 1st year courses and advises for some 3rd -year clerkships, in addition to coordinating seminars. There won't be a time when we as a  cohort will be with him to go over this matter.

Nor can we look the material up so that we will know the correct answer as Professor Donkey Bungholio defines it because that material as he apparently wishes for it to be listed does not exist in print. 

On the other hand, if a question had been asked (and this question actually was asked) concerning the treatments in preferred order for large kidney stones, and the reasons why each might not be a preferred treatment in a particular scenario, and  someone happened to miss that test question but wanted to know what was the correct answer so that he or she wouldn't let the mistake repeat itself in a real-life situation, scads of sources would give an investigator consistent data on the topic,  as consensus exists regarding preferred treatment of large kidney stones that refuse to pass on their own and reasons for using or not using each treatment.  A person could learn from his or her mistake. Anyone who missed that test item probably looked it up and will likely never ever forget the priority and contraindications for each kidney stone treatment.

With Professor Donkey Bungholio and his theory regarding the use of the barium enema x-ray as a diagnostic tool in detecting the presence or absence of appendicitis, no opportunity exists to learn from not having listed the answers as the professor perceives them to be. I know that approximately six students have them listed on note cards. i saw the evidence of the note cards from a distance, but not close enough to make note of the actual correct answer as defined by Professor Donkey Bungholio.

My point here is that, while missing a test item often is the greatest learning experience a student can have, it was not and is not in this particular case. All we learned is that a professor is a bit of an imbecile and a few of our cohort mates may not meet minimal standards for honesty.  There is no silver lining to the cloud of having missed this question.

Furthermore, as noted by Becca, who is very bright but does not yet at this point of her educational career study medicine -- though she has had extensive experience as a patient and has learned from her experience to the degree that she now knows nearly as much as some of the doctors treating her in regard to certain elements of her treatment -- why devote even  two exam  points to an essentially obsolete procedure that everyone with the most basic of training in the subspecialty  knows is obsolete for the purpose of diagnosing appendicitis? Why didn't Professor Donkey Bungholio ask us about blood letting as a treatment for various ailments? It would have been just about as relevant.

Life is inherently unfair. We all know this, and we know that there's no way to make it perfectly fair. But why go out of one's way as a professor to ask an unfair question? Even though I'm acting as though this test item is the rough equivalent of the fictional character Tom Robinson's treatment in To Kill a Mockingbird , for me there's little difference between a 98% and a 100% on any one given exam. For someone else in the class, though, it probably took the person's score from 80% to 78%. That was not a fair thing for Professor Donkey Bungholio to have done.

That's it. I'm finished with the topic. Judge Alex, I intend to do whatever is necessary to avoid being locked up in an asylum for the insane by the age of 30 or any other age.

On the brighter side of things, my own practical exam went as well as it possibly could have gone, both in terms of how I felt about it and in relation to the score. Scores were reported on the "Human Health and Disease" final as well, and I maxed that one out, too,  as did three of the other achievers in my study group. Even Matthew pulled a 92%, which was in the top quartile of the cohort scores.  I take much pride in Matthew's high scores when he achieves them because I understand just how hard it is that he has to work to get them.

Matthew and I are leaving to go home tomorrow, but my mom doesn't want us to make the entire trip in one day since we're driving in separate cars and can't do anything to keep each other awake. We're driving as far as Monterey, where we will meet up with friends for the evening. We'll stay at a hotel and have a bit of frivolity, then will drive the remainder of the way home on Saturday.

I need a vacation in the worst way. I'm not sure I could have stood another week of medical school. I had originally planned to teach high school math for summer school, but gave up the opportunity in favor of helping my aunt with her babies. 

i'm incredibly happy I made that decision. There will be sufficient childcare coverage that I could take a trip to Catalina or some similar diversion if I really wanted to, which would not have been a possibility had I been teaching. I'm not sure I'll want to go anywhere, though. Babies are the most fantastic creatures on the planet, and I'm so very grateful that my aunt and uncle don't mind  sharing their children with me.


  1. Do you think your medical career will involve taking care of babies?

    1. Knotty, I lost this reply to the ether much earlier. i don't thnk i'll end up with pediatrics as a specialty becaause doing things on a regular basis that would cause them pin is not something I wish to do. I'll have to deal with it in clerkship and Internship and I'll find a way to make it work, but not as my primary specialty. i suppose since I want a surgery subspecialty, a pediatric surgical fellowship isn't out of the question. i won't have to be the bad guy very often if baby or young child is unconscious. removing sutures when necessary won't be the child's happiest moment of his or her day, but when all is said and done is not all tHAT traumatic. So yes, i suppose pediatric surgical resdency is still on the table as a secondary specialiy.

  2. Alexis,Alexis,Alexis!!!!!

    Chill. Exams are an undeniably essential part of marking one's progress through education,but they are not worth stressing over. Especially not over ridiculous 2 pointers.

    What do you call the person at the bottom of the pass list at medical school?


    Seriously, exams in medical education serve two important purposes. (1)The authorities can look at the very bottom cohort and determine if these students are really cut out to proceed with stringent studies and what will be a testing life style. This is especially true in the early year(s).It may provide a little gentle persuasion to the not -really -motivated or unsuitable that they should look elsewhere.
    (2) To look at the top cohort to determine prizes, scholarships,honours etc. This is more important in latter years.
    They do not really care about the amorphous lump in the middle, except to mark that their academic criteria have been met.

    That said ,there are often"pitfall" questions/issues in exams where the answer or knowledge is irrelevant. As in interviews,they are seeking to see how a candidate handles an issue.

    BUT...... There are certainly professors and examiners who are unmitigated dicks.

    I had a physician who was heading for a Ph.D. in Medical Education who was an arch dick. He set a multichoice exam on the first Saturday morning of each term vacation for our final three years.There was much material to which we had never been exposed and the pot-hunting students went into meltdown crying "Foul" .

    After 9 such exams he revealed that we were part of his PhD thesis and these exams had no part of our University's assessment. He and a colleague from a University the other side of the world were trying to determine at which stage of the course students "learned"most or reached competence and comparing curricula.
    Wouldn't(shouldn't) receive ethics approval now.

    Don't forget your most valuable learning will come "on the job" ,giving opportunity for students like your brother to find a perfect niche and excel in a different arena.

    THE QUESTION was stupid as well as irrelevant. Barium radiology was an inappropriate diagnostic tool for appendicitis when I trained in the 70's. I recently found the paper for my final surgical exam, tucked away in the top of a cupboard. The Professor of Surgery had disagreed with my order of investigations but wrote on the bottom of the paper that he believed I had the capacity to be a careful and caring practitioner.That meant more to me than a numerical ranking.

    Enjoy your summer vacation. We are heading to mid winter-just booked our week skiing!!!

  3. Winter sports seem lifetime away. I will have a winter break next year.

    I rather fancy the term "arch dick." It seems to have summed up Professor Donkey Bungholio prefectly in two succinct syllables.

    I showed up tonight at godchild's house at planned. father too a look at me. he let me feed the baby his bottle and get him ready for bed. Then he told me to go to my parents' house and to get three good nights of sleep there in my own bed, and to show up mid-morning on Monday. he said i'm welcome to visit during the day between them and now, but that I need a few uninterrupted night sleep.

  4. I hope you enjoyed your time in Monterrey and are taking some well-deserved chill-time!

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  6. Professor Donkey Bungholio! You are funny. I understand now that you have a very strong sense of right and wrong. As far as life being inherently unfair, do you believe that if you are a good Christian, you will go to heaven? I want to know what you believe since you are so brilliant.

    As far as renowned lawyers, Abraham Lincoln is at the top and we have talked about him. But there was a lawyer that they made a movie about that won an Academy award for best picture of the year. Do you know who that is? Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma is a title that means "great soul."