15 May 2008

Advice from a Humble Surgeon


Check out Dr Alan Muskett's advice to the young and their parents thinking about entering the field of medicine in the Billings Gazette of 14 May 2008. You may get the feeling that Dave Barry or PJ O'Rourke has assumed a different name. How about the above disguise of a plastic surgeon?

If you can remember the old Saturday Evening Post, you may recall they used to have a humor section which started with a slow, tempting curve well outside, and ended with a fizzing high and inside fastball to finish you off: that is the way Dr Muskett writes this column.

Some quotes to whet your appetite:

First, a couple of slow curves—

"Let's say you have amazing grades and an astronomical MCAT. That's good, but your application must reflect your intense interest in medicine, an unshakable work ethic and heart-rending compassion. Thus it becomes mandatory to spend your summers in the slums of Bombay working with AIDS orphans, your school weekends emptying bedpans in nursing homes, and holidays organizing the Race for the Cure. Your personal statement on the application should state that you wish to serve an underserved rural area as a primary care provider, even if you want to be an anesthesiologist in Seattle. They never check later."

"The premed curriculum is fairly standard. Required are chemistry, physics, calculus, biology, vertebrate anatomy or some variation and my all-time favorite, organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is like a yearlong colonoscopy with no sedation or facilitative lubricants."

And then something with a little more bite—

"I've had a great career, but I don't remember a thing but fluorescent lights from my 20s and early 30s."

and then the zinger, high and tight—

"Because even though you work on Sundays and nights and sometimes in your dreams, you are in something that's palpably intense, something that measures you and sometimes finds you wanting. Despite the outcome, in the end, you were in the arena, and something real happened, and it mattered."
Yes, very nicely done.

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