Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy


Same story, two views

My preceptor and I, dressed in scrubs and looking thoroughly medical, were coming back from a lunch break. He is, among other things, a trained surgeon and pediatrician. As we got into his car, a disheveled woman came up to us.

"Please, do you know how to get to the medical center? I just got acid all over my hands, and the doctor said I have 3rd degree burns, but you see, I don't have any money for gas... I need about $2.50 so I can afford the gas to get to the hospital, my fingers hurt so bad, I gotta get 'em treated."

View 1: She's talking about 3rd degree burns and holding out her fingers as if to prove it. Unfortunately, she is talking to one highly trained medical professional and one trainee who can both clearly see that she has no burns at all (let alone 3rd degree, which by definition involve all layers of the skin and are therefore incredibly obvious). She is also standing directly outside of a 7-11, and the "burn scars" look suspiciously like "nicotine stains". Plus, there are no doctor's offices remotely near this particular 7-11. Busteeeeed.

View 2: This woman needs money, and who am I to call her out for lying to me? I'll give her a $5, and then ask her if she needs a ride to the hospital* so she can get some antibiotic ointment put on her "burns".

By the way, the naive, altruistic medical student in this case took view #1, while the hardened, bitter doctor took view #2. I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself.


*which she refused, so she could go inside to buy cigarettes.

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  1. I don’t think that your preceptor is a “hardened, bitter doctor.” He’s really quite nice.

  2. metaphorically, Nelly.

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