Friday, 29 July 2011


I think that the ‘E’ in mEdics stands for ‘Examinations’, and here is why. Being a medical student basically means signing a permanent contract with the examiner. When exams are around the corner, there is a ‘before-and-after’ effect. These are the frequent experiences where we have adrenal surges that leave us insomniacs for the days prior to and tormented for a few days after an examination. The effects hardly have time to wear of before another exam comes knocking. Even those times when a medic feels adequately prepared, in the exam room our minds often just go blank!

On a light note however, it is how the exams are tuned and more so how students embrace them that makes the experience comical. There are those who believe in their mental abilities and endure throughout the paper without consulting. I think members in this lot prefer to sit in clusters. Perhaps it has something to do with solidarity in the only difficult real life emergency where lone ranging is upheld and ‘socialism’ goes punished.

Maybe it is also to avoid being put in ‘awkward’ positions by members of a second lot who work in an ‘anastomotic team’. For non medics, an anastomosis is a communication between two or more branching systems of blood vessels for collateral perfusion or drainage. In an exam situation, the axiom ‘a degree is a joint effort’, best defines ‘anastomosis’. In tandem with varieties in the human anatomy, I came up with the following anastomotic types;

The ‘aterio-arterial’ anastomosis where all members are oxygenated (read charged) with relevant information. I think this type of anastomosis is non-involving and perhaps only meant for the verification of answers. With the wide scope of medical knowledge to revise for, this type is perhaps mostly non-existent.
Then there is the ‘arterio-venous’ anastomosis, a cocktail of hyper and hypo members. Maybe this is the most common type. Following the basics of diffusion, you can figure out how it works. Sources say that a student who is stuck in the exam and equipped in stealth can join in this anastomosis. How information flows along the long chain of ‘beneficiaries’ while eluding the invigilators nose is just a wonder.

A third variant is the ‘venous-venous’ anastomosis. Members of this arrangement are in an unfortunate situation where after establishing an ‘aterio-venous’ anastomotic arrangement, the invigilators decide to relocate part of the crew to a different venue. This negatively affects the formation’s maneuvers. Members therefore survive on the information discussed immediately prior to the exam or if in luck, by secondarily anastomosing to nearby willing ‘arterio-venous’ or the rare ‘arterio-arterial’ anastomoses.

Lastly, there is what I simply call a ‘shunt’. This is an imposed anastomosis where a student finds themselves next to another who has absolutely no clue of what is happening in the exam room. When I say no clue in a medical exam, I mean to the point where a student forgets their admission number. To establish the shunt, the desperate member of this arrangement resorts to methods ranging from pinging point blank questions to those seated close by, to grabbing the answer sheet of an unsuspecting neighbor and downloading all the answers into theirs.

As an afterthought; it is funny how some medics joke of anastomotic formations right before a paper. Things like soccer team formations and other algorithms can be heard during the tense pre-exam conversations. With increasing quantities of work and pressure to perform in examinations, I’m theorizing that future students might build an anastomotic formation so solid that it will make the arterial circle of Willis look like mere child’s play!

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