I’ve been thinking: the surgery in-training exam is really like a recitation of legends, orally recounted histories, not too closely related to facts, that define our community.

The test runs through a long series of stories, which are so familiar to surgeons and surgeons-in-training, that we only have to mention a few words of the story, to have the whole thing immediately recognized and understood.

Dr. Alice on Cut on the Dotted Line (sadly, she’s abandoned her blog…)

Al of our end-of-the-year-exams were oral, meaning that a real live examiner peppered us with questions. Answering was rather like storytelling. Sometimes, I was in a flow, everything came to mind and you could see the examiner getting drawn into the tale – how to determine which bacteria caused a certain disease, what kind of different blood pressure medications there are. Sometimes I didn’t know an answer and I had to pause, eventually having to say ‘I’m sorry, I think I forgot’, breaking the atmosphere, interrupting a story that just began.

I wonder who’ll get the highest marks: the student who gives short but correct answers, or the student who manages to spin an entire story despite not knowing the answers…