19 December 2012

Now, go pee in this cup

Some moments in medical school are surreal.

Our morning lecture concerned urinalysis (a standard set of important laboratory tests done on urine samples). We were all issued specimen cups and instructed to obtain urine samples (i.e. go pee in our cups). Throughout lecture, students slipped out of the auditorium and returned toting transparent containers that now were partly filled. When lecture ended, we tromped upstairs, specimen cups still in hand, and then as a group performed medical assays on our urine. Since most people's urine was normal, we hunted for classmates whose urine had abnormal findings, like crystals, blood, nitrites, or white blood cells.

It's entirely sensible that this activity was conducted the way it was. We need to learn how to perform urinalysis, and for technical reasons the urine ought to be fresh. We're at a stage in our training in which we're expected to be professional and comfortable handling bodily fluids.

But the image of me and my classmates, walking the halls of our school each carrying a plastic cup filled with his own urine, is pretty weird. Just another day in the life of a medical student.