By Christopher Nguyen
In a feel-good news story for your Monday evening, The Auricle has received word about some miraculous happenings at Monash Medical Centre.
Third year medical student Jean Allen, attending her first ward round of the rotation, has managed to swoop on her rotation group’s hard work and take advantage of a free cup of increasingly transient and ineffective liquid Ritalin: a good old-fashioned coffee.
“This is the first ward round I’ve attended in this rotation and it just happens to be the one where the consultant’s finally warmed up to the medical students enough to shout them a soy cap. I reckon I’m off to buy a lottery ticket today.”
Her less truant counterpart, ward partner Michael Jamieson, scowled in the corner with his long black, ruing the early starts and daily four-hour sessions spent roaming around the hospital trying not to get in the way of important routine procedures on the ward rounds each morning.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t annoyed. I’ve tried every trick in the book; getting here earlier than the registrar, chanting my full name three times whenever someone’s asked for the medical student, even scrambling for my stash of fifteen pens that I’ve slowly been giving away in the hope that the consultant realises they’ve been taking my pens before taking pity on me and shouting me that elusive coffee. I’ve even declined going to the outpatients’ clinic to subject myself to an afternoon of tagging along with the intern on the ward and being an absolute pest while they’ve done paperwork to try and cash in on just fifteen glorious minutes of team bonding and that damned free coffee I desire. It’s just unfair, ridiculously unfair. I had half a mind to oust her right there and then. I was going to go all Damian from Mean Girls on her.”
In light of these revelations about the underground world of ‘coffee hunting’ from the higher ups, we went in search of more comments on the current state of arse-kissing at a third-year level and future forecasts for the field.
“I reckon it’s all about picking and choosing the team based on the vibes you get,’ remarks one student wishing to remain anonymous. ‘Things like whether the consultant wears a tie doesn’t give you much to go on; it gives you an idea of whether you should bother showing up at all, because you’d probably be grilled on how they used to treat a rare condition back in the 1960s. I’ve heard some people use the consultant’s reaction to the classic ‘I have a tute’ excuse to get out of ward rounds as their litmus test for whether they should persist with trying to get some sweet, sweet bean. If they show interest and ask you about your tute trying to catch you in a lie, you just know you’re in for a bad time. My yard stick is whether the consultant continues to ask for your name despite forgetting it at least 5 times. I’ve got this general surgery consultant and she’s up to 4 now; she puts in the effort to ask every time, I’m definitely in with a chance. She’s operating tomorrow and there’s a prime twenty-minute window between her second and third case; pick your battles wisely, I say.”
At the very least, it’s abundantly clear that this issue hits home for many medical students; both in its familiarity and importance. As another student explains and/or complains, “How am I supposed to know whether I need to buy myself a baseline coffee to get me going in the morning if the field is so volatile these days? What if consultants suddenly start buying us coffee before ward rounds? Would I even want to live in such an unpredictable climate? I can’t have two coffees within 30 minutes. I haven’t experienced enough stress and hardship for that yet.”
What started as a positive snippet of news has become an investigation into an extreme sport as old as time itself. The competitive nature of coffee hunting and today’s incident may even perhaps be an allegory for the challenges of finding advantage and favour, in order to further our individual causes at the expense of our relationships with our fellow peers, only contributing to the mutual self-destruction of cohort morale. This, however, isn’t the time for speculation into any hidden meaning behind a seemingly harmless and friendly sport occurring every single day.
Despite all this, our team is left with more questions than answers as they assess the facts that remain: first, that team coffee rounds will perennially be unpredictable, perhaps on purpose to drag students out of bed to ward rounds; second, that the coffee conundrum of whether to bank on snaring a free coffee and forgo the self-funded morning perk continues to stew in the bleary minds of students; and lastly (yet most terrifyingly) that it’ll only get even more messy in fourth year as coffees on the ward are exchanged for babies in the labour suite. The Auricle understands that the dynamics only get more tense when the stakes are higher and midwives and logbooks are involved.
Reporting for the Auricle and signing off,
Feature image from The Independent