What happened to the freewheeling, easygoing Yale system? How did stress enter the lives of Yale med students? Was it a curse? An infection?

Thus began Infected, the second-year show presented in February by the Class of 2009. Anxiety first surfaced with the transition in the school’s office of education. Herbert S. Chase, M.D., the former deputy dean, had left, to be replaced by a seemingly befuddled Richard Belitsky, M.D., played by Mark Schlangel. What did this change portend? “Will we have to study embryology?” the students asked.

The students expressed their worries in a parody of “Circle of Life,” the hit song from the Broadway show The Lion King:

From the day we arrived on campus
Been in lecture, never seeing the sun,
There’s more to read than can ever be read
More to learn, our work’s never done.
There’s far too much to take in here,
Catch your breath and you’ll fall behind.
So we study in threes,
Shadow surgeries.
The only reason we’re not losing our minds
Is the system of Yale.
It’s what keeps us calm
Through secret codes,
Lectures forty minutes long.
It’s the only way to avoid competing—
It’s the system, the system of Yale.

The plot thickened with the emergence of Johns Hopkins lymphoma, also called Johns Hopkins disease, a plague of unknown origin that laid waste to the relaxed and hallowed Yale system of medical education. Students began to worry about exams, class rankings and competition from classmates. The virus spawned a new pickup line—“I hear the virus is sexually transmitted. Wanna find out?” Faculty noticed the change but didn’t expect the virus to spread to them. After all, they admitted, there was little contact between students and faculty.

But spread it did, as the cast performed an original song by second-year student Josh Trufant:

Dr. Bia spends his days watching Girls Gone Wild,
Fortin’s teaching Zen in the Art of Kitchen Tile,
Rizzolo’s robbing graves, Hep C’s in Duffy’s eye,
JHD spreads like cream cheese.
Now the faculty has it too—
We’re screwed! We’re screwed!

By the end of the show all had worked out for the best. Belitsky, a psychiatrist, realized the problem was all in the students’ heads rather than being caused by an infectious agent. Sanity prevailed, the Yale system was safe and calm returned to the medical school.