BREAKING: Med Jaffy Discovers Monash Has A Physical Campus

By James Gunasegaram

MELBOURNE – Sources close to The Auricle have confirmed that Jordan Pierce, a Year 1 medical student from Monash, has just found out that Monash University has a physical campus.

We interviewed the 18-year-old from six feet away and in his pyjamas, which he had donned shortly before the start of online classes in March and has yet to change out of. He initially appeared to be confused by the revelation, saying “that’s so cool that they made Monash into a real thing.” Upon being informed that Monash had in fact existed in physical form since 1958, he remarked that he was surprised the university had been so quiet about its nearby campus and so restrained in its efforts to sell him additional services.

Asked why he didn’t question why the lecturers were standing in theatres for several streams, Pierce replied, “Oh I just thought they were virtual backgrounds. You mean they’re real? That’s amazing. I bet they’re always full, how could anyone turn down the chance to watch a lecture in person?”

He was elated to hear he might finally get to meet his classmates in person, saying “I can’t wait! They must be so smart – I can see them now, hands glued to their faces and deep in thought while the tutor explains how to wear a condom. And I’m pumped to hang out with them afterwards! I’m sure the nightlife around Monash is right up there with the city. After grinding my way through VCE, I think Medicine is the perfect time to relax and let loose.”

“And I hear we can do practical skills! I’m glad Monash is teaching us things we can’t learn anywhere else, like how to wash our hands, how to take the pill, how to wash our hands, how to meditate and how to wash our hands.”

Pierce appeared less happy when he was informed that he would not be able to mute himself to avoid answering questions during in-person tutorials or fake connection issues to catch up on some much needed sleep after spending all night on working on his TikTok career, but was relieved to hear that “family emergencies” and “missing the train” would be acceptable substitutes.

He further noted that despite his excitement at an eventual return to campus, he worried that the commute might cut into his daily hour of mindfulness meditation, saying “I’m working my way up from levitating pencils to apples at the moment, and I don’t want to interrupt it.” He clarified that while he could find a quiet spot on campus to meditate, it wouldn’t be the same without being able to look to his life-sized cardboard cut-out of Craig Hassed for reassurance.

More details on this ongoing story to come.


Humans of Medicine – Jack Gerrard

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m Jack, I’m a final year med student, and I’m originally from Cairns. I moved down to Melbourne to complete my last few years of schooling before starting my studies at Monash. This move exposed me to a variety of new challenges and gave me the opportunity to personally develop in the sport of swimming. Whilst medicine and swimming take up most of my time, I’m currently enjoying working together with an amazing team in my role of Convenor for the Australasian Students’ Surgical Conference. In my spare time, I love relaxing in the sun at the beach or exploring the outdoors with friends.

How did you get into swimming? 

The climate in Cairns is very different to that of Melbourne! It’s pretty much always summer in Far North Queensland, so swimming is one of the most popular sports up there. Like most Australians, I learnt to swim whilst also learning to walk, and after learning the basics I loved everything about it. I enjoyed the challenge of it, being able to spend time with my squad, and having something to do after school – it was an awesome way to balance life.  

When I was 9, I started competing. I still remember these three really talented kids in my age group that I would compete against, and I was always the fourth kid who was chasing their tails. Gradually, I found ways to improve my technique, fitness and resilience with the help of my coach at the time. Slowly but surely, this allowed me to move onto state competitions, and eventually Nationals. 

Did it feel different swimming in Melbourne? 

Moving down to boarding school at 15 was a big adjustment for me. The whole experience at Melbourne Grammar was definitely more intense than the slower pace of life up in Cairns. On top of that, I was riddled with injuries for about five years, which meant that although I was still able to compete at various National Championships, I wasn’t physically and mentally performing at my best. It wasn’t until I was able to find a balance between training and studying medicine, that my swimming really improved. I love the feeling of being in the water, and I find swimming to be a great outlet after a long day of studying or placement in hospital. 

Did you ever find it challenging balancing both? 

For sure. In some ways the academically stimulating nature of medicine and the physical demands of swimming complement each other well. However, international competitions required considerable travel, which made it very difficult to combine sport and study. Towards the end of my second year, at a time when year two still counted towards the infamous z-score, I made a squad that was going to the US Open. I knew it was poor timing but I decided to go for it anyway. The event was the largest meet I had competed in at the time, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to race against Michael Phelps. I ended up missing over two weeks of course content that I had to cram upon return – definitely not a fun way to end my pre-clinical years. That experience was formative in making me realise that I wanted to take time away from study the following year for the 2016 Olympic Games. Otherwise, I was going to end up disappointed with both my academic performance in medicine and my performances in the pool. 

What was 2016 like for you? 

I was fortunate enough to have a really good performance at the Australian Olympic Trials before the 2016 Rio Olympics, but unfortunately missed out on the 100m freestyle team by half a second. It was disappointing at the time, but I was motivated to continue with the momentum that I had built, so for the rest of the year, I competed in a series of World Cup swimming competitions. At the end of the year, I had the opportunity to represent Australia as part of the World Championships team. Being able to wear the green and gold was amazing; a childhood dream come true.

Tell us about one of your most memorable swimming experiences. 

I was fortunate enough to represent Australia again at the 2018 World Championships in China, which was a surreal experience. It was the final evening of the event and there were over 11,000 people in the Hangzhou ‘Little Lotus’ stadium. I remember hopping onto the block for one of the legs of the relay, where Australia was competing against the USA, China, Russia and Brazil. As the third swimmer, I was racing against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who was a huge crowd favourite. The top teams were all within a second of each other and as I prepared to dive in, the crowd roar was so loud that my ears began to ring. The energy in the stadium was like nothing that I had ever experienced before.

So, where to now with your swimming? 

At the start of March, I would have said that my plan was to cut half a second from my freestyle time to try and make the Australian Olympics team this year. Reflecting on my training and preparation at that point, I felt that I was certainly making good progress. It’s hard to say what will happen with coronavirus now, but regardless, I’m looking forward to my internship next year. I’ve dedicated more than 15,000 hours over the last 15 years or so to swimming, and have learnt a lot about myself through the sport. Whilst I’ll always enjoy swimming, my true passion lies in medicine and I cannot wait to commit my energy to a challenging but fulfilling and rewarding career.

Tell us about your exchange. 

When I was made aware that the elective rotation in final year had been replaced with a research component for MD students, I was keen to obtain exposure to a different healthcare system. I decided to apply for an exchange with Harvard Medical School. I wanted to gain insight into their incredible innovation and technology as well as experience a different healthcare system that faced its own unique difficulties. 

I ended up being placed at the Boston Children’s Hospital as part of the paediatric surgery team, and really enjoyed it. There were 30 operating rooms running every day, and patients would not only fly in from all across America but also from the Middle East, China and other parts of Asia. The Boston Children’s Hospital was located within the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, which was a mini city of innovative medicine and technology. I really enjoyed the culture of inclusivity and the dynamic learning environment. Considering the hospital was neighboured by Harvard Medical School, I was fortunate to be able to study on campus and meet medical students who I am still in touch with today. 

If time and resources weren’t an issue, what is something you wish you could invent? 

Something that I am passionate about is the interaction between medicine and our environment, specifically when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of medical waste. I became aware of the magnitude of this problem as a third year student on a surgical rotation, where every single drape and many instruments would be discarded after each procedure. While disposability is time efficient and allows all equipment to be sterile, it isn’t sustainable, and in future I’d like to conduct research into creating cost effective, reusable equipment.

What is one issue within medicine that you wish you could change? 

Australia is fortunate to have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. I don’t want to come out as an expert as to where we should be moving into the future, but I’d like to see more camaraderie, equity and opportunity for everyone in medicine across all specialities. The important role of general practice in primary health care is vital and should never be underestimated.



The Demons

By Anonymous

Within your placement, ask a consultant about a clinical protocol he/she had to follow in the last week. Was there any aspect of the protocol he/she disagreed with? How did the clinician deal with this?

“Tell me about the demons, Gerald.”

A smile spread over the patient’s face at the psychiatrist’s question. The smile was genuine and innocent, and perfectly suited his chubby, childlike face. “Well they’re always around me. They keep me company. Look, there’s some right now,” he said, pointing at the ceiling above the psychiatrist’s head. I fought the urge to look where he was pointing for a moment, but then it overwhelmed me, and I looked up, to see a disappointingly demon free ceiling.

The psychiatrist seemed less interested in entertaining this fantasy and kept his attention squarely on his writing pad. Every now and then the scratching noise his fountain pen made against the paper was overpowered by a screech from the ward. The patient seemed transfixed with how the gleaming nib danced under the down lighting of the interview room.

“Have you told your family about the demons?” questioned the clinician.

“The demons are my family.” The psychiatrist looked up from his writing pad, a disconcerted expression permeating his usually infallible poker face. He hadn’t heard that one before.

“These demons, do they speak to you?” he quizzed. Gerald nodded a content, energetic nod. “Do they ever ask you to hurt yourself?”

“No, Doctor, never.” The psychiatrist went quiet for a moment, tapping the back of his fountain pen against his chin.

“What about other people, do they demons ever ask you to hurt other people?” the psychiatrist changed tact. Gerald nodded a more vigorous, almost violent nod, the smile on his face expanding to the point I was afraid he might swallow his own head.

The psychiatrist’s eyes narrowed. “Gerald, the demons aren’t telling you to hurt me, are they?” Gerald let out an involuntary giggle. The psychiatrist’s gaze flickered towards the door to his right for a brief moment, then returned to Gerald. “What are they telling you to do right now Gerald?”

Between bouts of giggling Gerald stuttered out an answer; “They’re saying to take that silly pen of yours,” his response was punctuated by more erratic laughter, “and stick it in your eye.” As Gerald continued to cackle away the psychiatrist purposefully capped the fountain pen and tucked it securely away inside his suit jacket.

“I think we’ve got everything we need Gerald, thank you for your… candidness,” the psychiatrist drew the interview to a close, and turned to me as Gerald skipped out of the interview room. “Thoughts?”

I hesitated for a moment before offering an uncertain answer, “He’s not reacting to the Clozapine the way we had hoped.”

“So, what do you recommend?” he pushed.

“Maybe we try something else.”

“We have tried almost everything else. Clozapine is the end of the line, it’s for treatment resistant schizophrenia. It’s what we use when nothing else works. We’re kind of stuck now.”

“We could up the dose-”

“And risk agranulocytosis,” my shoulders slumped as I attempted to shrink away into my chair. “It could put an end to the psychosis though,” he offered, and I beamed at my first correct answer all day, “by killing him.”

“Oh,” I sighed.

“We stand behind the TTO,” he said standing up, “There’s not much else we can do at this point.”

“Um, this may sound like a stupid question-”

“There are no stupid questions,” he interjected, “only stupid people.”

“Right.” This was reaching record levels of discomfort. “What exactly is a TTO?”

“A Temporary Treatment Order. Its kind of a measure we use for acutely ill patients, that is patients who are at risk of harming themselves or others if untreated,” he explained, “We can install one provided it is the least restrictive means to ensure safety, and it allows us 28 days in an inpatient facility to form some sort of immediate action plan. For Gerald, I just want more time to see if the Clozapine will take effect, as we are very much in the transition phase between antipsychotics.”

“Uh huh,” I nodded.

“It’s never ideal, but its sometimes necessary. Some patients really deride it, but Gerald’s a relatively agreeable fellow. Violent fantasizations aside, of course,” he clarified as he turned to leave the room and return to the psychiatric ward. After a brief hesitation I followed.