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Just what the doctor ordered

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1998 - Summer


With The Rx Files, the second-year class writes a prescription for (kind) humiliation and high honors.

No cow was too sacred for the Class of 2000, as it lampooned deans, beloved faculty members and lowly first-year students with equal relish in the second-year show, The Rx Files. Not even the lunchtime food vendors on Cedar Street were spared their barbs.

The plot followed the exploits of fictional FBI agents Mulder and Scully from The Rx Files as they tracked down a missing collection of brains (The Cushing Brain Tumor Registry) and made bizarre discoveries about the faculty and student body. First-year students, the agents reported, lack reproductive organs. Anatomy professors are weird.

As always, being satirized was the highest tribute. From its opening moments, the show set its sights on Robert H. Gifford, M.D., HS '67, who has served for more than a decade as associate dean of medical education and student affairs. “Dr. Gifford, you will be sorely missed. (We think this time he might really mean it.),” the program read, referring to what had been his second expected retirement at the end of the school year. As it happens, he didn't. (See Faculty news.)

Other faculty members, including William Stewart, Frank Bia, John Rizzolo and Emil Boulpeap, joined in a videotaped spoof of the comic film The Full Monty. The professors tried out for a dance team to raise money to balance the medical school's budget. Dean Kessler and Dr. Gifford gave thumbs up or down on the wannabe dancers, later portrayed on stage by students.

The cast pounced on the English pronunciation of Pietro De Camilli, the recently appointed chair of the Department of Cell Biology, who was born in Italy. “What are you saying? Is it GTP or GDP?” asked student Natalie Holt, playing agent Scully. But even she has trouble with medical jargon from native speakers of English. “I can't take it any more!” she screams during a scene set at a faculty tea in the Beaumont Room. “I haven't understood a single word anybody has said here tonight!”

A scene on Cedar Street poked fun while it paid tribute to the vendors who offer food at lunchtime from their mobile stands. The cast sang No Greasy, No Oily to the tune of Don't Worry, Be Happy:

Bean curd make your mouth a water?
You get two pieces for a quarter.
No greasy. No oily.
The yaki soba on my right
Eat it, you get a parasite.
No greasy. No oily.

After Dr. Gifford, Dr. Kessler was the target of countless gags and one-liners on his work to regulate tobacco as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Student Darren Lish, portraying Dr. Kessler on stage, leaned back in his chair and lit a cigarette.

Dr. Kessler appeared as himself in one of the show's final scenes, impersonating bare-chested prancer Michael Flatley in a parody of the traveling extravaganza Lord of the Dance. With 22 dancers clad in black and step-dancing around them Dr. Kessler swirled director of admissions Lynne M. Wootton around the stage in a number called Deans of the Dance.

The show's finale had the entire Class of 2000, dressed in their white jackets, taking the stage and singing Do You Hear the Beepers Ring? to the tune of Do You Hear the People Sing? from the musical Les Miserables:

Do you hear the beepers ring loud in the middle of the night?
It is the music of a people who are turning wrong to right
For the students on the wards there is a redness in their eyes
Before the longest call will end and the sun will rise.

Linda Maxwell, who produced the show with Lalisa Anderson, called it one of the most memorable experiences of medical school. It is a last chance for second-year students to get to know each other before they split up into teams for their third-year hospital rotations. “We saw people really come out of their shells,” Ms. Maxwell said. “People really put their hearts into it.”