There are a lot of words you could use to describe the average med student: tired, burnt-out, hard-working, haggard, (and more often than not) seated. But one word that rarely comes to mind is bored. That’s because we associate boredom with having nothing to do, and believe you me, we always have something to do.
Of course boredom — much like pus, as I was recently told — comes in many varieties; and one of those is the type afflicting the students stuck in Lecture Room E of Volker Hall in Birmingham, Alabama from roughly 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. every day listening to PhDs reassure us that THEIR lecture (which, inevitably, is on something totally medically irrelevant unless you’re doing research in THEIR lab) will actually be useful when we’re doctors. So we — and by we I mean my classmates; my butt remains strictly unconscious until 11 a.m. at the earliest — found a solution: LRE BINGO.
Don’t ever say med students, or southerners, aren’t creative. One too many ridiculously monotonous lectures and one 50+ comment Facebook thread later, roughly 176 people were paying much more attention in class; not because we’re just that fascinated with Neisseria, but because if the lecturer would just mention his research, or the McQueen twins would just come in their white coats on the same day, or if the professor would just put up a picture of their family to prove they have a life, someone would get to yell BINGO. Maybe even in the middle of class if the spirit so moved them. See, creativity.
Some of the items on the bingo card were everyday occurrences: “Lecturer puts up clicker question with seemingly obvious answer that is wrong,” or “Lecturer curses in class,” and, of course, “Lecturer says you’ll probably never see this or it’s not testable and then proceeds to explain it in detail.” Others were more personal and hard to come by. As far as I know, the McQueen twins still haven’t come to class in their white coats on the same day yet, and it took several weeks for people to check off the “Dragos Rezeanu comes to class” square (that’s right: I made the card. Autographs by request only). It started out as five in a row, but before we knew it we had to move to blackout. And although there is not a single profound lesson I can find in this exercise (believe me, I tried), one cool, if a little bit conceited, thought did strike me: we’re pretty awesome.
Yeah, it’s nerdy (most of what we do is), but I don’t think any other group of people this stressed out this much of the time have this much fun. Most of us come to med school afraid we’re gonna get stuck with 90-percent uber-nerd gunners who can’t tell a patient from a petri dish. But when we get here, we’re all pretty surprised to find out those people don’t really exist (or if they do, they’re getting PhDs so they can become future lecturers). We have hobbies, lives outside the library, and significant others. And although we also have a module final on December 21 — still trying to figure out how the Mayans got ahold of our schedule that far in advance — for a group of students in Alabama, we’ll always have BINGO.