The theatre was silent. The case had meandered along for over an hour. The orthopedic surgeon still hadn’t spoken a word to the student who stood on tip-toes peering over the registrar’s arm. The student was visibly nervous on his first day assisting in the operating theatre with his new team. He desperately wanted to make a good first impression.
Without warning the orthopod broke the silence and looked straight at the medical student, “what’s your name?”.
“Umm… its Steven, Mr. Symonds”.
“Right Steve… tell me the funniest joke you know.”
The scrub nurse and anesthetist shared a premonitory exchange of glances. Steven paused in thought trying to gauge the situation and come up with a joke at the same time.
“OK then… have you heard the one about the three dwarfs?”
“No, I don’t believe I have.”
Steven took a deep breath, then began:
“Well, there were these three dwarfs sitting around a table knocking back a few beers. The first dwarf stroked his beard and said to the other two, “Look at my hands. Look how small they are. I reckon they must be the smallest hands in the entire world.” The other two dwarfs nodded in agreement. The third dwarf said, “I think you’re right, you should go down to see the people at the Guinness Book of World Records and see if you get in.” The first dwarf smiled, “That’s a great idea.”
The second dwarf added “Actually I reckon I might pay them a visit too – look at my feet, they’re tiny. They must be the smallest feet in the world.” The other two dwarfs were startled by how small his feet were. The first dwarf said, “They’re tiny all right, you should come with me.”
The third dwarf, not wanting to be left out chimed in: “well I’ m going to come along as well – I’m certain that I’ve got the world’s smallest penis.” The other two dwarfs decided not to verify this claim but nodded, and the second dwarf said, “Well we’ll all go along together to see if we can get in the Guinness Book of World Records”.
The three dwarfs jumped to their feet and set off to the offices of the Guinness Book of World Records as fast as their little legs would take them. Once they arrived, the first dwarf was called into the assessor’s room. He was gone for almost an hour. Finally he emerged from the room with a triumphant grin, “I’m in! My hands are the smallest in the world.”
The second dwarf was called in next. He too emerged with a beaming smile. “I’m in too! These feet are the smallest in the whole world!”
Finally, The third dwarf was called in. The first two dwarfs grew concerned as the clocked ticked and tocked. At last, after two hours the door opened and the third dwarf trudged out looking despondent.
“What`s the matter?”, the first two dwarfs asked in unison.
The third dwarf shook his head in frustration then shouted “Who the hell is Mr. Symonds?!?!””
The only sound heard in the theatre was the sudden jerk of the orthopod’s hand followed by the pulsatile squirting of a tiny fountain of bright red blood.
[Names are, of course, changed to protect the innocent… and the stupid.]
A poor assistant is better than a talented opponent.Rick Paul
Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.
After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.
He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE. He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.
His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.
On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.