Curious Med Student Smells Finger After Digital Rectal Exam

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Harvard Medical School, BOSTON – At the nation’s most prestigious medical school, students were taught how to perform a digital rectal examination (DRE) on real patients for the first time. The DRE is a very important physical exam skill that can assess rectal tone and detect abnormalities of the prostate, such as cancerous nodules. We caught up with Susana Woo, one of Harvard’s keen medical students, and asked her about the experience.

“It was really exciting to insert my index finger up a person’s anus for the first time in my life!” exclaimed Woo. “Afterwards, I took off the glove and just succumbed to the urge to smell my finger to see if it smelled like poop and it sure did, but it is something all of us were curious about. I immediately regretted doing it and probably won’t do it again in the future.”

“I am really excited that we have this unique opportunity at Harvard. We get to do things that other medical students in the country don’t get to do,” said Woo. “Now I can’t wait for obstetrics. I wonder what my fingers will smell like after a cervical exam.”

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