SACRAMENTO, CA – In the wake of the CDC’s announcement that we still do not fully understand exactly how the Ebola virus is transmitted, several top medical schools have started offering $5 Starbucks gift cards to medical students who are willing to volunteer for studies to solve this dilemma.
MS1 Benjamin Jonathan was giddy with excitement when he was given a spot in the study looking at whether licking the sweat off of an Ebola patient can transmit the virus. “I couldn’t believe my luck,” Benjamin said. “$5 Starbucks gift card and all I have to do is lick a few armpits, then sit in isolation for 21 days and see if I get a fever. Think of all the studying I can get done! Plus I hear we get free flights from California to NY and back during the isolation period if we want, meals included!”
His classmate, Elizabeth Kruzton, was equally excited by her placement in a study examining whether patient vomit can transmit the disease trans-corneally. “What a way to help humankind,” she said. “This is why I came to medical school, just look at my personal statement! And a $5 Starbucks card is just the icing on the already really quite delicious cake.”
Across the country in Baltimore, Maryland, medical students at Jerome Hoppers Medical School were also rushing to volunteer. Enrollment was already filled on a study looking at the effect of wearing five pairs of gloves with one bare finger sticking out while placing peripheral IVs in Ebola patients. “You’ve gotta have that bare finger or you just can’t feel the vein,” said medical student Mike Guran. “I should know, I was a phlebotomist for six months before med school.”
Medical student Stephanie Charm was thrilled to have been chosen for the highly-competitive study looking at rectal exam transmission. Asked to explain her study she said, excitedly, “I will be doing bare-handed rectal exams on all new Ebola patients. Not only will I get a $5 Starbucks card and further science, but I’ll be such an expert at rectals after this that I’ll be sure to get into my top surgical residency! Score!”
Asked for comment, ACGME spokesperson Harvey Wankowitz said, “As long as they are still able to register, and pay, for the licensing examinations we have no problem with medical students participating in these projects.”