COLUMN: What’s in a name?

  • Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013 7:00 a.m.

It did not take very long for the MUSC class of 1974 to come up with nicknames for our professors during our first year of medical school in our freshman year of 1970. Naturally some names had been passed down to us from classes before us, but we were some what creative ourselves.

A physiology professor was known as “Spike Wheeler.” One of the microbiologist was called the “Mad Iranian.” “Natasha Tree Stumps” was the nickname given to another professor, but my favorite name was that tagged to an excellent, loquacious pathology professor.

In those days the professors would speak from the lectern on the stage in front of many sleepy and frustrated medical students. As old-fashioned slides were used back in those days, a lighted “pointer” could be shown on the large screen to point out the areas of interest. Also a slide changer was needed to automatically advance the slides, and this was naturally attached to the end of a long electric line or wire, as was the pointer. Cordless microphones were not available so another long line connected the professor to the microphone and speaker system. Naturally he had a couple of beepers, and, since he smoked, there was a pipe holder on his belt. You would not be surprised to learn that he would occasionally trip over all this stuff as he walk abound the stage while imparting pathologic knowledge to us budding future physicians. So, we called him “The Wichita Lineman” in honor of Glen Campbell’s popular song of the same name.

“Shifting Dullness” was the name given to a pulmonary professor as we transcended to the medical floors our last two years of school.

If you have ever been to the endoscopy suite at our local hospital, you know that the female nurses and technicians are also knows as the “Endobabes.” You might meet “Mother Teresa,” “New Girl,” “Little House,” “Valley Girl” and even “Nurse Dean” and several others if you are lucky.

It has been my impression that the higher the nickname titer, the higher the esprit de corps and fellowship.

Radiologists are sometimes known as “Shadow Merchants” and some surgeons are called “Scissor Hands.” Internists are called “Fleas,” possibly because they make rounds in large numbers and draw a lot of blood.

David Keisler is a gastroenterologist and internist in Aiken.

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