Different species of doctor trigger different emotions in the medical students that they observe and co-exist alongside. Some, like the Consultasaurus Rex, inspire a degree of fearful respect. Others, like the Golden Goose Consultant, exude an aura of hope.
But, unlike these, there exists one species that evokes a truly peculiar emotion: an immense unknowing, a sense of being so out-of-your-depth that those around are practically speaking in an alien tongue.
These are the EDs – Extra-Docrestrials. Please note, this name has no connection to an individual’s desire to perform PR exams (Google it…) – these are “probe-only-when-necessary” aliens…
The ED’s ability to induce feelings of overwhelming unpreparedness comes from their cerebral language centre. This centre, an immensely-dilated organ designed to cope with the sheer volume of polysyllabic jargon stored within, lets individuals employ a unique and fascinating language. It’s an advanced, otherworldly vocabulary (4-5 syllables per word being an absolute must for any self-respecting Extra-Docrestrial), which they use to communicate with the other species.
Most cohabiting species, having spent years alongside each other, grasp the complexities of their communications. Unfortunately, the same is not true for many Medical School students. We are unversed in the “standard” abbreviations and terms, and therefore struggle to understand oft-crucial components of conversation.
Unable to determine whether “DCIS” is a condition, procedure or forensic detective show, naive students become bogged down by medical terminology, inhibiting their capacity to learn, and massively handicapping knowledge taken from such sessions.
However, there are some ways to try and decipher the code:
Pretend to have understood. Granted, this is a risky manoeuvre. Blagging avoids the embarrassment of seeking clarification, but is difficult in direct conversation. If Extra-Docs ask further questions or give orders, you could risk utter humiliation, be it by through inserting the catheter in the wrong cavity, or by simply standing their gormless. Blagging must only be implemented by true masters of hasty improvisation.
Note for later study. Again, this hides poor understanding, (and note-jotting makes students appear ultra-keen), but is not viable when immediate understanding is needed. Plus, many terms are only used locally, making them hard to find and decipher on the internet.
Ask for clarification. The best option for most students. The earlier that clarification is sought the better. ED’s do not appreciate giving an entire monologue, only to be asked at the end to explain a pivotal term that was used three words from the start. Secondly, be wary of over-frequent inquiry. A few clarifications are fine, but when every other word needs explanation, it is a good indicator that further self-directed study is needed.
Extra-Docrestrials do not set out to confuse students. The terms that they use are commonplace for them, and many individuals may not even realise that they are using them. A proactive med student can easily survive an encounter with the species, emerging on the other side in possession of much-needed learning and with pride (relatively) intact.