My nth ACLS — Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support — recert last week,  in which, I will tell you without false modesty, I was as smooth as a piña colada on the beach at Cozumel and orchestrated the megacode* like M. F. K. Fisher dissecting the preparation of a trout.

Before all of that, however, we were treated to the usual ACLS training videos, produced by the American Heart Association. If you have done ACLS you know the ones I mean, with the guy in the blue shirt (more about him in a moment), and the actors with thick Texas accents.

The videos were new the last time I recertified, and I had forgotten how ridiculous they were, not in their content, but in their Sixties-throwback portrayal of nurses and the hierarchical relationship between physicians and nurses. Or maybe it’s an accurate representation of nursing in Texas?

Sample dialogue (I’m doing this from memory, so please excuse any errors):

Physician: (slowly, as in patiently instructing a dim child) Julie, would please begin the preparation for this patient for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, alert the catheterization team, and obtain a consent? Please also obtain an EKG and place this patient on a cardiac monitor, and report to me with vital signs every fifteen minutes.

Nurse: (head bowed and eyes downcast, literally) Yes sir!

I nearly fell out of my chair, watching this, but my dropping jaw was in the way. In my universe, any physician behaving like this jackass would have been so much mirepoix as sliced and diced by Julia Child. Maybe when the portrayal of nurses as stereotyped brainless wonders distracts from the information you’re trying to convey, it’s time to revamp.

Anyhow, as we watching these awful videos, a close colleague and friend who was recertifying with me and who also is very evil, nudged me in the ribs.


“Look at the guy in the blue shirt,” she whispered.

I looked. “What?”

“His left eye, it’s wonky.”

I looked again, and so it was. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that once you notice it, you can’t take your eyes off it and worse, you can’t help yourself. Once you see the wonky eye, it’s all you can see.

It’s at 00:49, in case you want to see for yourself, and taint every ACLS course you ever do. You’re welcome. I live to serve.


*Where the victim, i.e. the student, is given a scenario, and the examiner then runs through a variety of cardiac arrhythmias in order to test how the student would treat each arrhythmia.


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  1. #1 by JennJilks on Tuesday 11 May 2010 - 1411

    You’re the kind of person I’d love to take a course with! Too bad blood makes me sick! :-)

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