Medical conceits; the “grand” round……

I received some spam a few weeks ago, inviting me to purchase some little blue pills with apparently wondrous qualities and another to subscribe to a ‘grand’ round; before deletion, I circulated them to all the people I don’t like. But it did bring back some happy memories when my hair was long, my step was light, and my eyes were wild.

When I was a student in Dublin, our professor decided to institute a ‘grand’ round. Even in those more innocent days (and Ireland was very innocent then), this was largely recognised for the conceit it was, a way of reminding all the other consultants that thought they earned far more money than him and had bigger shinier cars (this is important to consultants, especially the emeritus ones), due to their private practice, they still yearned for academic respectability and he was still the biggest dog in the yard.

On the first day of the ‘grand’ round, the requisite crowd turned up, a mixture of sulky consultants, slobbering registrars eager for advancement, baffled SHOs, exhausted and whey-faced interns, and hungover medical students, all waiting in fascination for the disasters that we knew were certain to ensue.

The big problem was that our professor was not very popular with patients, so when the hordes swept in to the first ward only one little old lady (LOL) was in bed. The senior registrar presented the not-very-interesting case, after which the whole troupe shuffled outside to discuss it in the corridor, enjoyably trampling a passing porter.

I was at the back of the crowd so I couldn’t hear very much, not that I cared, the bits that I could pick up concerned mostly her bowel movements and how normal they were, when I noticed the nurse wheeling the above LOL out of the first ward. Sure enough, when we entered the second ward, there she was again, gloriously alone.

Then, to our eternal delight, one of the registrars who had arrived late and missed the first ward, started presenting the case again. Most of the crowd, his competitors, were more than happy for him to keep digging, while other more decent souls did try to gain his attention, making furtive cutting throat gestures, but this was his moment in the sun, his big day, nothing was going to stop him, and he continued to the bitter end.

When he at last finished there was a long silence, punctuated only by the sniggers of the medical students.

‘Any questions?’ asked the prof, looking as deflated as the consultants were smug.

‘Can I go home?’ said the LOL.

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