We had journal club earlier this week, the first one of this academic year that I haven’t managed to find an excuse to avoid. . . Ahem. Actually, I go to journal clubs and conferences religiously – in the truest sense of the word, since there is an exponentially higher chance of my getting to any given conference than to church that Sunday. (Come to think of it, M&M has an eerily religious quality to it: everyone always comes, and confesses guilt. . . absolution not to be had reliably, though.)

I was the kind of student who could never skip class even when I knew for sure that the professor mumbled in a foreign accent, had never explained a concept meaningfully in his career, and would spend the entire class going over the first two pages of notes (out of 50). So now, even though I know that I will inevitably fall asleep halfway through the lecture (it’s a real point of suspense, whether I’ll be able to last past 20 minutes; I consider staying awake to the half-hour mark a real victory), I go to every conference, unless I am unavoidably detained in the OR. The surgery residents I knew in medical school were very nice folks, but that was one thing they taught me quite sternly: never skip lecture unless you have an ironclad excuse, and only a code qualifies for that.

So, as I say, having made it to my first journal club this year, I discovered that it’s much better this time round: The interns are usually called upon to present, by way of making sure that they get educated, and learn to be responsible enough to read the articles. Then the chiefs are invited to comment, in the confidence that they will have something worthwhile to say. The juniors are, for a rarity, left to themselves. It was quite a novel sensation, to find myself senior to a whole crowd of interns, and consequently with no need to worry about how I was going to explain some complicated piece of statistical reasoning in three minutes flat, to an attending who knows it all backwards and forwards anyway.

(Don’t worry, the juniors make up for it at all other conferences, where any time you see a CT scan coming up, you know you’re going to be asked to read it and defend a management plan based on your reading. Depending on how genial the attending is feeling, he may correct your misreading before asking for your plan.)

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