Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Guess-work Amplification

I've always loved Viva-voce (oral) exams, I really miss them now. They not only give you a great chance to show off just how much you know, but also how well you can communicate with the examiner. No two examiners are alike, and neither are any two vivas that an examiner takes. There're so many variables involved, there's no way that one can be "totally" prepped for these exams. Not a lot of fellow med students appreciate vivas; a lot of them know the matter but are unable to formulate a differential diagnosis, argue their points etc.

Some of the wackiest situations are when the examiner starts off on a completely different path than what you have taken, now he/she expects you to not only justify why you weren't wrong, but also why the examiner could be correct. Another is when some examiner says something outlandish & grossly wrong, leaving you to correct them. It's made for some damn interesting stories over the years.

One thing remains constant in every exam though, your ability to guess & exaggerate in front of the examiner. There's a lot of slang that's used to describe this phenomenon, "Butt मारना ", "Globe मारना " etc. I know they don't make sense at all,  but they've reached a level of national acceptance in med schools! You can either wow the examiner with your special gift of nonsense or frustrate them to new heights! Like all the crap we pull in exams, its a double-edged sword, with a shit-ass barbed handle to boot! 

There was a time last year when all of us were so apprehensive of identifying a particular sign, giving a definitive diagnosis, living a rough line of treatment. We all second-guessed ourselves, confused as a hound in  a meat factory about what we were about to say. It definitely didn't help when we had to invent symptoms, signs & diagnose a patient who wasn't a classical presentation; better yet when we tried to "Globe".

Things have changed so dramatically its insane. We now give spot-diagnosis without batting an eyelid, notice signs & argue clinical findings without giving it a second thought. There's something magical about internship because you're never worried about anyone grading you, never really worried about the patient because the hierarchy above you is always around to check on what you do. Vicarious Responsiblity (Respondeat Superior) is one of the few perks in internship, meaning that if we screw up, we're not held responsible. It's given us wings & pushes us to diagnose more often, report irregular findings with greater confidence & try things that we would otherwise never have the guts to do! I wanted to leave you with a quote on how the practice of medicine revolves around an intelligent guess; but somehow I just couldn't find it. Well, here's a funnier one instead:

"The reason doctors are so dangerous is that they believe in what they are doing"
- Robert Mendelsohn


  1. Indeed you must be among the very few who loved vivas.
    and what is 'globe'?
    Some things dont change though. I have argued over clinical findings during viva and I do them now. Tone has changed, no doubt.
    Here is a quote from scurbs " If you cant stick to your convictions, you will never make it as a doctor."

  2. Title inspired from The Big Bang Theory?

  3. I was never quite able to master the art of "Butt marna". Plus I always had this feeling that my facial expressions gave everything away during the vivas, no matter how convincingly I lied.

    Also, even i noticed your titles sound Big-Bang-theory-esque. Not that i am complaining. I quite enjoy them.

  4. @anonymous#1: You're a scrubs fan too? One of my favorite quotes from the show, among the thousands that are worth writing entire posts about. "Globe" I think would be something like Hyperbole. Again, I can't really explain it even after so many years of using the term

    @anonymous#2 & Aayushi: Yes, I liked the theme of the titles & one can't really run out of them, can they? Though I'm not copy-pasting them.