Dear Dr. Direction…

A resident advice columnists answers your questions

Medical school is a special place…for special people. Between the stress of trying to stay afloat and our own unique personality quirks, awkward moments are pretty much impossible to avoid. Never fear! Your trusty advice columnist, Dr. Direction, is here to address all your Social Competency needs.

Dear Dr. Direction,

Being a medical student, I am always prepared for everything school-related. However, I somehow manage to consistently forget my watch every time we have a practice physical exam. What can I do to avoid looking like a total fool?


Timekeepers Anonymous

Dear Timekeeper,

I should probably start with something about Prior Preparation and Poor Performance. But I don’t want to further your OCP tendencies, so lets go with some alternatives. You could go the bougie route and get a pocketwatch and cleverly stash it in your white coat. Or, if the 21st century suits you better, you could whip out your handy dandy cell phone. Another option is to wander into the nearby LRC lobby and start asking passersby for timepieces. If all else fails, you can try asking the patient to borrow his/her watch. But, worry not! Since you are likely practicing exam skills without any idea what you are looking for, you will probably look like a total fool anyway, watch or no watch. Cheers!

-Dr. Direction


Dear Dr. Direction,

I often spend late nights studying in the LRC and don’t get out to eat much, so I get very excited about the prospect of free food nearby: leftover pizza, cookies, Chinese food…etc. Recently, during one sad, lonely night, I found a two layered cake on the floor of the LRC. Nobody else was around, and normally I would have dug in, but then I remembered that whole ID sequence thing. What is the correct approach?


Lonely in the LRC

Dear LRC Loner,

Okay. Listen to me carefully. GO HOME! Scramble some eggs, buy some jelly beans, do something. I haven’t had the pleasure of culturing the LRC floor recently, but my guess is that it probably grows everything that was ever in the hospital and then some. If you really can’t help yourself, I would say Purell your hands first (and maybe your mouth) and bring your own fork. Lets B. Cereus. It’s probably not worse than that Chinese food.

-Dr. Direction


Dear Dr. Direction,

I have a friend/classmate who, well, for lack of a better term, really reeks. Like all the time. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of deodorant or just a really bad case of B.O. But I feel like I can’t be the only person who notices. I don’t know how my friend doesn’t notice, but I feel like someone should say something. I mean it’s really gross, but also probably embarrassing too. But I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. What should I do?

Please help,

– Odor Friendly

Dear Friendly,

This is a tricky situation. Normally, I’m a proponent of cutting right to the chase, but somehow, I don’t envision a coffee date where you say, “Friend, I care about you, but you really stink,” ending well. This is a situation where you probably need to weigh your friend’s feelings against the unpleasant assault on your nostrils. How much time do you spend with this person? Most likely, not every waking minute, so just savor the fresh air when you can and just breathe through your mouth around your buddy. Odds are, some douchebag will probably comment eventually anyway. Then, when your friend is upset, you can give him/her a nice pat on the shoulder and swoop in with a gift of scented soap. And, anyway, even if that doesn’t help, don’t worry. Just think of it as training for all the wonderful smells you will undoubtedly encounter through the rest of your career!

– Doc Direction


Dear Dr. Direction,

I always feel incredibly awkward whenever I go into the LRC. I don’t know what to do, especially when I see people I know. It’s a quiet, study zone, so I don’t want to bother people. But I also don’t want to be mean and not say hi. Usually, I just keep my head down, but sometimes eye contact is unavoidable. I don’t know if I should wave or go over and chat. A lot of times I get flustered and just end up doing a sort of weird head bob thing. It’s getting to the point where I feel so awkward once I walk in that often I just do a quick lap and then go find another place to study. Not to mention, I think people think I’m weird. What to do?


Hopelessly Awkward

Dear Hopeless,

First of all, congratulations on noticing other people while you are in study mode! This is a big step for most med students! Kidding. Actually, my guess is that most people are equally unclear about LRC greeting etiquette. So let’s just put together a few guidelines. The head bob, despite being weird, is actually used so often that it’s almost become mainstream. It works best if you do a firm, upward chin motion along with a quick upward glance. Usually, I only go over to say hi if I have something to say other than, “Hi”. If the head bob is too much for you, a wave or a smile should suffice. Stay away from weird gestures like peace signs or thumbs ups. They tend to make things worse for people who are already awkward. Good luck bobbing!

-Doc Direction



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