Am I not normal?

Actual date 20/9/12

Today we learned what a “normal” person is. We have a medical statistics module, this module is supposed to teach us to think critically of any journals and publications and to not just take their statistics and facts as law. I think, in principle it is an excellent idea to teach this to medical students as we should constantly be questioning which drug, method or practice helps improve our patients lives the most. However, I really think that Public Health doctors (who are giving this module) need to go on a course or something that will remind them what it is like to be human. Every single one of them that has lectured or supervised us so far has been as dry as the Sahara. This is our second set of lectures, and the module runs the whole semester, meaning that we will in all have 24 lectures on this stuff. I hope to god that they get a little bit more interesting than this.

On top of the mind numbing nature of the lectures, we have group work. This is where we go off into our small groups (8 people in mine, including Gareth who you met last week) and work through our module booklets, guided by a Dr who supervises ourselves and another small group. Our “anti-group” (Coz we’re cool and use physics jokes like that) are a lot louder than us. Which means they tend to get a lot more help. For now, they also seem to function much better as a unit than we do. I’m sure that given time this will change, but for now we aren’t working as well as we could be. We still manage to get through the work though, and decide which of us are normal. What I didn’t find “normal” was that we were all given a question sheet and expected to bring it back for the next session. I didn’t realise that I’d suddenly been transported back to high school. I hate being given meaningless tasks like this and expected to do them to someone elses timetable. I did the tasks.. and it was actually quite useful. We got them every week and it made sure that I understood what was going on in the lecture. I was obviously in a bad mood the day I wrote this as well.

“Normality” is defined as falling within 2 standard deviations either side of the mean value. (I had the same blank expression on my face as I hope that you’ve got right now”. Basically what this means is if you have a bell curve (As shown below), you should be within the 95.something% that falls within 2 standard deviations (something I do know how to work out, but it escapes me right now.. it’s something to do with the stats function on my calculator). This is how the “normal” values for all your blood tests, urine tests and things like that are calculated. Basically, if you’re outside of the range of values that you’d expect.. then either you’re weird, or there’s something wrong. Either way, you’re not normal.

Despite my skepticism at the time, this module did prove really useful.

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