NEW YORK — Students enrolled in the Plastic Surgery Summer Fellowship were surprised when they were instructed via electronic mail not to report to the Medical Center on their first day, but instead to arrive at the Brooks Brothers on Fifth Avenue promptly at 9:00 a.m. While proper attire for the day was not specified in the email, students arriving in scrubs were immediately dismissed from the program.
“Plastic surgery is a competitive specialty,” explained fellowship director Dr. P. Moniesworth as he reached down to brush some Manhattan dust off the broguing on his oxfords. “We can’t have students taking up valuable mentoring time and resources if it’s clear they don’t have what it takes.”
Students were then brought into the store, where attendings had set up seminar stations in sections for pocket watches, monocles, three-piece suits, cufflinks, among others. Students were instructed on the understated elegance of white gold and the importance of french-cuff shirts. “Before you can be a plastic surgeon, you have to look like a plastic surgeon,” explained Dr. Moniesworth. “Medicine is about empathy. You can’t expect a patient to want you to execute their narcissistic, image-obsessed vision if it’s clear you aren’t an image-obsessed narcissist yourself. And cufflinks that say “I’m rich AND shallow” go a long way towards building that connection.”
The students were then put through a series of OSCEs in which they were to demonstrate the various skills they learned throughout the morning with standardized patients. The OSCE skills included cuff-link adjusting, pocket watch flashing, Rolex wristwatch time-checking, and tuxedo jacket buttoning. There was also a necktie practical where students were asked to tie a full windsor, half windsor, four-in-hand, and bow tie. Any students that did not successfully complete all evaluative components of the session were immediately dismissed from the fellowship.
After the assessment, the plastic surgery program had to vacate the store, as Brooks Brothers needed to prepare for an internship group coming from a law firm for a workshop entitled “How to Waste Client Money Tastefully.”
When asked by a student whether to report in scrubs the next day, the fellowship director responded “What are we? Orthopeasants?” The student was promptly dismissed from the program.