Published on 29th June 2016 by Roya
What is a registrar? Meet the Registrargoyle, illustrated by Lynda Richardson.
What is a registrar? Meet the Registrargoyle, illustrated by Lynda Richardson.

Medical students experience an array of emotions whilst studying alongside doctors and registrars – pride, excitement, anxiousness, exasperation and irritation to name a few.

This is standard for doctor-student interactions, but like the rules of any unnecessarily complicated board game (looking at you Marvel Superheroes game – you broke my skills of deduction), there are exceptions. The Registrargoyle is one of these.

What’s in a name?

The Registrargoyle takes its name from its face. And before you ask, no, I’m not just writing about really ugly doctors. I’m referring to the Registrargoyle’s constancy of expression. It’s as if it were hewn in stone.

Be they pleased, annoyed or disgusted, the Registrargoyle’s poker face is resolute (side note – logically, not wise to play them at poker). Never once expressing emotion, you will only witness the penetrating stare of their cold, dead, oblivion-consuming eyes.

Beware the stony stare

Naturally, this can be disconcerting for naive med students. Wary of ambush, you’ll be on edge around the species, unable to attain any state of comfort. This is a factor that damages confidence, concentration and – possibly most crucially – motor control, to the point where even simple tasks become impossible.

Taking bloods? The patient’s veins seem to visibly shrink under the Registrargoyle’s gaze. Your hands appear to have suddenly developed extensive nerve damage, making it impossible for you to hold a needle steady, let alone stick one into somebody’s arm.

Taking a history? A few seconds of supervision from the registrar can induce a temporary dementia, not only preventing recollection of questions to ask, but impeding the simple language skills. You are instantly devolved from being a high-achiever into a pea-brained Neanderthal. Quelle horreur.

A giggle from the Registrargoyle? No chance…

The Registrargoyle’s power lies in it’s target’s inability to read their expression. Without hint from the supervising individual that what they are doing is correct, medical students begin to self-doubt.

Overcoming this can be difficult, but isn’t impossible. One method is to directly ask how you are doing. Though the Registrargoyle’s poker face is rarely broken by this, normally they are forced into response. They will then give some insight into their satisfaction, at the cost of the patient suddenly getting very worried that you don’t know what you’re doing…

Another option is to break through it’s emotional barrier. Though difficult in first encounters or when contact is infrequent, getting to know the human behind the stony facade can help. Ask about extra-medical interests. This will help to not only improve your ability to identify tells in their expression, but will give them more inclination to be friendly.

Sadly, these techniques don’t always work – sometimes their deathly expression is simply due to them being truly dead inside. No amount of conversation about football will break them down. Fortunately this isn’t the case 99% of times, and students that make the attempt will generally find the effect of the Dementor-gaze lessened, improving quality of time spent in such encounters, now and into the future.

Uploaded by Eric Richardson on 24 June, 2016


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