Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Some Sound Advice...

As a rising second year at NYU, I have been deemed a seasoned-pro at medical school by the admission’s office and have been entrusted to serve as a “big sib” to three incoming first years. I’m not exactly sure what being a “big sib” entails, but I imagine it involves giving some sort of advice. I am a seasoned-pro, after all. If asked about anatomy lab I’m going to tell them:

“The tissues go into the bucket on the shelf.”
The first day of medical school, one of my esteemed professors gave an introductory lecture to the much hyped, much fretted about gross anatomy lab. I only took one thing away from that lecture: “The tissues go into the bucket on the shelf.”

I remember this bit, because I was struck by the considerate nature of this gesture. “They know how gross this is going to be,” I thought, “And they are providing us with tissues to clean our hands.” The following day, I showed up, and at the end of the hour, when I had finally gathered enough courage, I lamely picked at my body.

“Dr,” I asked, holding out a piece of fat as far away from my body as possible, “Where does this go?” “Looks like someone slept through my lecture yesterday,” she teased. “The tissues go into the bucket on the shelf.”

Beat. (It took a few seconds for my brain to decipher my immense confusion).

Not thinking about how stupid my forthcoming revelation was going to sound, I replied. “I thought you meant Kleenex tissues.”

I have never felt so blond in my whole life.

To the incoming first years… let my blond hair shield you from potential embarrassment and remember: “The tissues go into the bucket on the shelf.” And by tissues, I really mean everything gross you can ever imagine coming from your cadaver that isn’t legal to throw into the trash.

This is the best advice I can offer about anatomy lab. Oh, and double glove, invest in some scented hand cream, and remember to shower before you re-enter the outside world, because the smell of formaldehyde is not normal, no matter how much you will begin to think it is.

ShortCoat is a column that discusses the humor, heartache,and humanity of becoming a doctor. Alexandra Sowa is a second year medical student at NYU School of Medicine.

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