Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Caricature of a Preceptor

One of my favorite preceptors this month was an unintentionally funny guy.

  • He was Chinese, and his English was good but somewhat broken. He generally didn't like seeing Chinese patients, especially older ones, because he said "they act like I'm their son, and I should do everything for them." His Chinese patients loved him; I even saw a traditional-looking couple bow to him as they walked out of his room.
  • His idea of panacea was a much photocopied page of back stretching exercises. Patient's here for a pap smear? Infertility and diabetes? Allergic rhinitis? Great! and out would come the sheet of exercises. Most patients took them solemnly, saying "Thank you doctor," folding it carefully like it was a birth certificate or marriage license.
  • He had memorized the list of $4 medications at Wal-Mart. (There's a similar list at Target now, if you didn't know). He was genuinely excited about this idea, and often told patients "I prescribed you xxx, you can get it at Wal-Mart! Four dollars!"
  • I admired that he attempted to speak Spanish, in addition to Chinese and English. However, it was only an attempt. "Hey there, soy Dr. C. Cabeza dolor? Estomago dolor? Peepee dolor? Poopoo dolor? Cuando ultimo Pap smear/exam de prostate?" was his standard Spanish exam, delivered rapidly and with a thick accent while he listened to lungs and heart. Often, the Spanglishese was accompanied by an odd pantomime; any urinary, vaginal, or rectal process was addressed by a waving of the hands towards his crotch. He had taken the time to learn certain small words, like one for "rash", but his pronunciation was so bad that the patients didn't know what he was talking about, and I couldn't often translate the Spanglishese for them. Fortunately, the words "okay", "here", "medicina", and "Wal-Mart" work in either language, and he generally gets by, especially with the help of a Hispanic nurse.
  • This particular preceptor took more time to teach than any attending I've had so far. He had purchased a scanner through an education grant, and constantly scanned pictures from magazines, Reader's Digest, or pharmaceutical ads, then compiled them into large powerpoint files for "teaching". If the subject was complex, like EKG patterns in MI, the student often pointed out things he'd forgotten, or explained how to tell a posterior MI.

Much of my time thinking about Dr. C involves phrases like "aww, how cute!" like, "aww, he's trying to speak Spanish again!" or "aww, he's trying to teach again!" At least he enjoyed to teach and genuinely liked having students around; I never felt like he was upset that I'd asked him if I could work with him on a particular day. Instead, he'd say "pull up a chair, and I'll find a powerpoint." Refreshing.

1 comment:

Rach said...

I love your blog- really enjoy reading your refreshing take on med school.

Teachers sometimes come in strange forms. Your preceptor sounds like one of those. These strange teachers really offer so much even if we don't realise it at the time. Glad to hear that you're appreciating all that this particular guy did for you.