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Explore This IssueSeptember 2013
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The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.
As a child, I never liked the month of September. Not because of the weather, which is actually quite pleasant as the long, hot summer days have passed and the afternoons are breezy and the evenings are cooler. To me, September signified the start of the school year, which meant having to deal with new classroom placements and new teachers. What a drag! I much preferred November, when routines were established, friendships were blossoming, and teaching styles were finally deciphered. As a student, “cracking your teacher’s code” was of paramount importance. After all, once you figured out who ruled the class with a firm or soft hand and who graded exams with a penchant for failing students or inflating grades, your time and effort expenditures could be allocated accordingly. After all, there were so many competing distractions, from playing sports to listening to rock n’ roll music to watching your favorite television shows, and, at some point, to flirting with girls.
Fast forward a couple of decades later. As a first-year medical student, I am sitting, actually fidgeting in my seat, trying to follow an anatomy lecture. Today we are studying the course of the pudendal nerve as it slips between the piriformis and coccygeus muscles. Its location in the pelvis is being meticulously drawn on the blackboard in a bright canary yellow color by our highly distinguished anatomy professor. Anatomy lectures were as exciting as listening to a talk on international tax treaties, so having an artistic talent was a requisite for success as an anatomy instructor. I arrived late to class and there were just a few remaining empty seats far off to the side of the lectern that afforded a limited view of the drawings. How am I ever going to remember all this excessive detail about just one of many pelvic nerves? To my dismay, I noticed that several more ambitious classmates had already sketched the drawing in their notebooks. For different reasons, neither I, nor my seatmates, Tom and Nancy, drew anything in ours. I had absolutely no artistic talent, and each anatomy lecture forcefully reinforced that point. Once again, Tom and Nancy (not their real names) were oblivious to the lecture. They were far too busy cuddling each other. I am not sure what became of Nancy, but Tom went on to become the dean of a medical school.