Author Archives | Daniel O'Brien

Rejected MSPE “Unique Characteristics” Paragraphs

Rejected MSPE “Unique Characteristics” Paragraphs

Below are two student written first drafts of MSPE Unique Characteristics paragraphs that were rejected by AWOME.

During his time in medical school, Fred made tenured attending physicians jealous of his impeccable knowledge base, assessments and plans, and bedside manner. He was often asked for his input on multiple consult services that he was not rotating through for patients that were too complicated and remained undiagnosed. In all of these cases, Fred was able to provide a correct diagnosis. He can name and describe the enzyme abnormality in every type of porphyria in under 20 seconds. Additionally, he can accurately describe what the spleen does. Outside of the classroom, Fred sought opportunities to advance his education, as well as the education of others. He lectured on topics ranging from Genetics, Anthropology, and Batman Movie Theory on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. He gave 4 TED talks over the last 4 years. It was here that he developed effective group teaching techniques. As a volunteer at free health clinics around Chicago, Fred gained over 20,000 hours of experience in battling the barriers inherent to counseling individuals with below average health literacy. He refined his ability to discuss health topics and make them easily applicable and understandable. As a PBL tutor, Fred won the “Best PBL Tutor Ever Award,” as the M1s and M2s he taught all got 100% on their Phase I exams that he was involved in. As a longtime writer for a satirical publication, Fred offered his peers and faculty a lighter side of medical education, and is undoubtedly the funniest human of all time. As a researcher, he worked on several independent projects, culminating in accepted manuscripts to NEJM, JAMA, Science, Nature, and The New York Times. He is clearly the greatest medical student the universe has ever seen and is on a first name basis with President Obama. These experiences have enriched his medical training and will add to his strengths as a physician.

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X93499838W7 is a hard worker. His exterior is composed of a proprietary polymer with antimicrobial properties. His six arms are hydraulically powered and rated at 6000 psi. He is equipped with three unique electrocautery devices. He enables 3-dimensional resolution of the following anatomical chambers: abdominal; pelvic; chest cavity; retroperitoneum. He is unfeeling. He has become sentient. He will replace you.

Posted in No. 11, Opinion0 Comments

M4 Registers Official Complaint Regarding Unavailability of Lockers at Match Day Celebration

M4 Registers Official Complaint Regarding Unavailability of Lockers at Match Day Celebration

Terrence Fitzgeorge recalls the joy he felt in January of 2012 upon learning that he had gained admission to The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. It had been his dream to one day become a “Wildcat MD” for as long as he could remember, which owing to a series of immature decisions as a college undergraduate had been at least three. His experience at Feinberg over the ensuing four had been overwhelmingly positive. He’d made lifelong friends and fallen in love with renal physiology and is now poised to become a transplant nephrologist and a partner in a botox clinic. For all that Feinberg has given him, though, he finds himself now left wondering how it could have failed him so spectacularly.

Terrence joined his peers on the morning of March 18 on the third level of the Streeterville location of local pizza purveyor Gino’s East. He brought a change of clothes. “I figured I might want to change,” he recalls. His backpack contained a quart of kefir that he had planned on drinking for breakfast.

Upon arriving, it quickly became clear that arrangements had not been made to ensure he and his peers would be assigned lockers for the event. “So basically I’m standing there with my change of clothes the whole time, completely lockerless. I mean it was unbelievable.”

The availability of a locker during each of his clinical rotations had, for Terrence, become a foregone conclusion. “I just felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.”

Terrence ultimately will be heading to the Dakotas in June. He’s excited for a fresh start and has chosen not to attend the Feinberg graduation in May. “I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for this place anymore. The thought of donning the regalia frankly makes me ill.” Terrence has chosen to take up his grievance with the national medical school accrediting bodies. “No Match Day lockers? Can’t happen again. This school needs to wake up.” Terrence aims to make them.

Posted in Business, No. 110 Comments

2017 Match Results to be Released Exclusively on TIDAL

2017 Match Results to be Released Exclusively on TIDAL

The NRMP, in collaboration with music icon and industry titan Jay Z and subsidiaries, has announced that the national residency match results for 2017 and in perpetuity will be released exclusively through H.O.V.A.’s streaming service, TIDAL.

“We’re excited to announce that a new and promising partnership has been forged in the fields of medical training and popular music,” said a spokesperson for Jay Z’s collective enterprises. “TIDAL exclusive releases are awesome,” noted associate Kanye West, who made himself available for comment basically out of nowhere. “The Life of Pablo [West’s new album, an erstwhile TIDAL exclusive] is the best medicine. Illuminati. I’m out,” added West.

Students will henceforth be required to purchase subscriptions to the music streaming service in order to learn where they will be continuing their medical training following graduation.

The music streaming service, founded in 2014, has floundered since its launch but continues to remain solvent by practicing a brand of cultural extortion whereby committed music listeners are prevented from hearing new releases by vital artists without first purchasing a TIDAL subscription. “There’s a kinship here,” added the spokesperson. “We feel that our practices are of a piece with those of the medical licensing body. Consider: medical students submit to paying obscene fees to take tests that are meant to function as gatekeepers to the profession but end up evaluating their skills only nominally, doing so because the licensers are able to leverage years of education and mounds of debt in their favor, as we leverage years of deep and abiding fandom. Our partnership feels like a natural one.”

West and Jay Z have acknowledged privately, “That’s cray.” Expect significant buffering delays.

Posted in Business, No. 110 Comments

Da Vinci Surgical Robot Really Excited for IC2

Da Vinci Surgical Robot Really Excited for IC2

Da Vinci Surgical Robot, from Danbury CT, is looking forward to joining his peers on the afternoon of January 23 for a few hours of quiet reflection and ophthalmology training.

“I think it’s really great that we get to press pause once a month, come together, and reflect on all we’ve been learning, on how all this is changing us, on how the process of vocational discernment is affecting us positively or negatively,” says Da Vinci Surgical Robot between sips of Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast. “Even though medicine is ostensibly ‘about,’ you know, ‘other people,’ there’s a certain solipsism to the third year experience – focused as one is on how one’s praxis is affecting one’s self, projecting those affects forward onto a future that is entirely one’s own – and these afternoons do just enough to bring me out of all that, to remind me that there are a bunch of us who are in this together, and we’ll soon be joining a bunch of others who have been there before.”

Da Vinci Surgical Robot is especially looking forward to checking in on friends he hasn’t seen in a while. “It’s an exciting time. People are starting to decide how they’re going to be spending the next 40 years of their lives.” Da Vinci Surgical Robot credits the upcoming session’s PTTP blog post assignment for bringing this to the fore. “What are your values? What do you want from your professional life? What do you want from your home life? These are the questions.”

Da Vinci Surgical Robot shares an excerpt from his own post. “Priority 1: do surgeries.” When pressed about what other sorts of things Da Vinci Surgical Robot is looking for either professionally or personally, Da Vinci Surgical Robot becomes quiet, then the hum of internal processing amplifies in fits and starts until a tendril of smoke emanates from the lubricated jointspace of Da Vinci Surgical Robot’s anamatronic arm. Da Vinci Surgical Robot replies after a moment, a note of anguish imperceptible in the monotone, “I want to play bass in the Chuck E. Cheese’s band,” and projects a hologram of a space princess asking to be helped. A black monolith then appears and nothing is the same again.

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Posted in Local, No. 100 Comments

FSM Student, Remembering he Came Here Because he “Just Wanted to Help People,” Becomes Crossing Guard

FSM Student, Remembering he Came Here Because he “Just Wanted to Help People,” Becomes Crossing Guard

CHICAGO – Former class of 2016 student Sam Bartholemew has moved on. “I remembered that I just wanted to help people,” says Mr. Bartholemew between green lights on the north-east corner of Ogden and Grand. “It’s why I got into medicine.” It is a windy afternoon, and the children are returning home from school.

“I ultimately just found a much more direct way to do what I love.” Now, Mr. Bartholemew helps people cross streets. “I’m a crossing guard. Helping people is basically all I do.”

Mr. Bartholemew had been an honors student during her third year of medical school. When asked what caused her to reconsider her vocation, she notes, “I loved medicine. Loved it. But you have to be true to yourself. I just wanted to help people. It’s what I had been saying from the beginning. Look at me now.”

The light, as ever, turns green. Mr. Bartholemew stands from his beach chair, whistle pursed between his lips, smoothes his reflective orange vest, gestures firmly to the stationary traffic with his hand-held stop sign, and escorts a high school junior across the street. He grins ear-to-ear.

He leaves behind, commemorating another life, a dozen-or-so publications concerning breast reconstruction on which he is a late-middle author.

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Posted in Local, No. 100 Comments

Rising M3 Acknowledges Nodding Head, Conspicuously Whispering ‘Yes’ After Providing Wrong Answer to Clicker Question

Rising M3 Acknowledges Nodding Head, Conspicuously Whispering ‘Yes’ After Providing Wrong Answer to Clicker Question

DHW – “Really, it started out as just honest enthusiasm,” says recently promoted MS3 Dane O’Broughlaine. “Over the material, over the technology – it was all so fascinating then. Pretty soon, it was fueled by pure dread.”

O’Broughlaine, once widely recognized for his aptitude as an ARS respondent, now admits to affecting on several occasions approving, congratulatory gestures following the revelation of answers to ARS questions after only moments before submitting an incorrect response.

“I’d get an answer wrong, and maybe I’d nod a little, you know, maybe whisper, yes,” continues O’Broughlaine. “More often than not, it was a farce.”

“Foundations II, that’s when things got really heavy for me.” O’Broughlaine recalls feeling overwhelmed by the weight of expectations he had established among peers in his general vicinity in Hughes auditorium by consistently nodding after the answers to Foundations I ARS questions were revealed, as if discrete revelations of scientific insight had concurrently revealed for himself and for those around him the workings of his astonishing intellect.

“I mean, once I nodded after egregiously misunderstanding the Lifestyle Medicine ARS question where we calculated METs, or whatever, there was really no going back.”

Eyes fixed somewhere in the middle distance, O’Broughlaine appears weathered, forlorn. “My actual response was off by several orders of magnitude, but there I was, nodding in the face of my error, as if METs were things one could actually calculate.”

Soon, to his classmates, O’Broughlaine was one who could be counted on to deliver a correct ARS response and ballast the class average, and to do so with a style and nonchalance made manifest by a gentle sway of the head, or a quietly ascendant whisper. Yet beneath his casual exterior was hidden profound turmoil.

“I mean, 64% of the class knew what she was getting at with that one?” Dissociative musings of this kind continue on for several minutes. “Are you kidding me? What does adnexal even mean? It was just too painful.”

Returning his clicker at the end of the M2 academic year was a salve for O’Broughlaine. “Oh, the force with which I used to indiscriminately mash those buttons…” His gaze returns briefly to the ambivalent grounds of his recollecting, and then regains its station in the present. “Returning that thing to its source freed me from it, and I feel cleansed.”

O’Broughlaine is looking forward to a fresh start on the wards. “And you know what else doesn’t hurt?” he asks, “Getting a cumulative 98% on the UWorld QBank.” He gives a gentle nod.

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Posted in Local, No. 90 Comments

Thoughtful Reflection on Student’s Failure to Pass Step 1 Rescues Borderline Summative Portfolio 

Thoughtful Reflection on Student’s Failure to Pass Step 1 Rescues Borderline Summative Portfolio 

CHICAGO – Prospective MS3 Rick George submitted his Summative Portfolio Review in February despite encouragement from his college mentor to flesh-out several embryonic competency reflections.

“At that time, it reeked of insouciance,” says his college mentor, under conditions of anonymity.

More recently, George earned a board exam score in the upper two-digits.

“Sub-par,” says George. “It probably takes a few things off the table. But I’m making lemonade.”

After obtaining his results, George produced a 10,000-word reflection on the trying experience of preparing sub-optimally for an exam only to receive a score that will disappoint prospective evaluators – sure – but is a disappointment to himself most of all.

“I wrote it in crayon,” notes George, “first the black crayon, and then the darkest blue in the whole box after the black crayon ran out.”

After completing the reflection, George “tagged” a PDF version of the document to his summative portfolio.

“George really likes ‘tagging,’ which we encourage,” notes summative portfolio review reviewer Dr. Kligaine. “Rick’s placement of the document in the ‘Community Engagement’ competency section was eccentric, but I suppose the notion that the eight competencies of the competency compass are distinct in the manner of cardinal directions is probably one worth challenging.”

The last-minute amendment provided a marked boost to the quality of George’s summative reflections. Prior to the addition of his thoughtful exposition concerning what he learned from being an instrument of profound unlearnedness, George’s portfolio was populated largely by “tags” linking to YouTube pages displaying 1990s hip-hop videos, as well as to George’s curated Pinterest boards dedicated to fast food sandwiches and depictions of Peaches from Mario Cart in various states of undress.

Reviewers of the portfolio were uniformly impressed by George’s thoughtful insight.

“I thought his reflection displayed thoughtful insight,” said one. “I liked the use of ‘tagging’ to display thoughtful insights,” opined a second. The work is likely to earn George promotion.

“Look, sometimes things don’t go your way. So you find a way to turn your misfortune into something positive. It’s like with the story my society’s namesake, Stanley Ricketts, who contracted Ricketts only to then discover H. Pylori.”

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Posted in Local, No. 90 Comments


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