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May 21, 2007

Practicing with privates in public

Have you ever gone in to see the doctor and -- I'm directing this question mostly to the men, because the answer for the women is obvious -- the doctor examines your personal regions? And by "personal regions," I mean somewhere south of the equator?

Well, during those moments in which you're not thinking "Why me?" does it ever cross your mind to wonder how doctors learn to do examinations of personal regions? Or do you assume that medical schools are still using those old Mr. Penis and Ms. Vagina hand puppets that we had in our "health" classes in high school?

Ha, ha! You are so behind the times.

Out at the medical school at Northwestern, they're going to pr0n shops to buy anatomically correct body parts for students to practice on. As Dave Barry, whose blog was my source for this article, would say, I'm not making this up.

[Dr. Carla] Pugh, 41, has patented technology that combines portions of fully formed anatomical mannequins with computers to teach medical students to do exams on the body’s most private and sensitive areas — genitalia, breasts and rectums.

These are the exams, she said, that students are often most afraid of and that many medical school instructors, themselves often long-time practicing physicians, still find to be a source of embarrassment.
I know you guys have trouble even speaking a coherent sentence to women who have breasts. Can you imagine what it's like for a doctor to have to speak to women who also have genitalia? Much less to men who have penii.

As Dr. Pugh says: "These guys have to be able to do it and act professional, so that adds a lot of pressure."

So good old Dr. Pugh invented simulators, and I'd bet my bottom (heh!) dollar that the med students call them "stimulators."
Simulators are arranged at various stations according to exam type. At the prostate station, for example, several models of the male posterior are arranged on a table in various positions.

Inside each plastic model — yes, they have a fully formed anus and rectum — are paper-thin sensors that measure a student’s touch and send individual readings to an attached computer monitor.
You remember the board game "Operation," right? Well, these simulators are basically real-life versions of "Operation." If you touch the simulator's anus the wrong way, a human voice shouts, "Get your hands off me!" and you get a nasty shock. Oops, sorry, wrong "Operation" game. Here's actually what happens:
Students show up at the station for a brief overview from an instructing physician and then moments later, fingers are inserted, line readings from sensors go up and down on the computer screen, questions are asked and answered.
Sounds pretty boring, eh?

Well, not to worry. You can spend your time as a med student making scatalogical jokes: "An instructor assures a student that, yes, you can tell a patient it’s OK to pass wind if necessary during the exam and ask for a warning first."

This is why we love the medical profession so much. Almost as much as lawyers.