In 1949, William G. Anlyan, then a fourth-year med student, encouraged his classmates to poke fun at their professors and deans in a song and dance review called the “Four Years for What Follies.” Anlyan wrote the script, directed the show, and provided piano accompaniment. It was an outgrowth of the vocal quartet (The Forceps, featuring Bi, Tri, Quadri, and Contra) he had formed previously. For the next few years most fourth-year classes maintained the new tradition, though some were too caught up in their coursework for such frivolity. By the 1960s—the exact date is unclear—the scattering of fourth-years to clinical clerkship sites across Connecticut had made it difficult to produce a show. A second-year show marking the end of a pathology course took over as the main student production.
That show endured until Saturday, Feb. 20, of this year, when the curtain fell on the longest-running production on Cedar Street. The introduction of a new curriculum, which will have second-year students on clinical rotations at a time when the frenzy of producing the show kept them out of class for weeks in February, made this year’s show the last second-year production. It is hoped that fourth-year students will carry on the tradition.
As they prepared this farewell show, members of the Class of 2018 felt an obligation to honor the tradition and those who have made it such a success over the years. ”It influenced our whole plot,” said Robin Wu, one of the show’s co-directors, with Max Farina and Tejas Sathe. “It was important to acknowledge the tradition of the show,” added Farina.
This year’s show, “Remediation,” paid tribute to past shows through the travails of four stereotypical medical students (the nerdy scientist, the do-gooder, the legacy admit, and the shallow frat boy), all of whom had failed a qualifier in the history of medicine. Each incorrect response to the question, “What was the most important day in the history of the Yale School of Medicine?” sends them on a trip through history. Unbeknownst to them, Lawrence Rizzolo, Ph.D., one of their anatomy professors, has rigged their computer as a time machine. Their first stop takes them to medieval times, and an encounter with an early incarnation of Auguste H. Fortin VI, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine. “Medicine?” the medieval Fortin asks. “Medicine is just conjecture and fraud. We are a highly respected institution: The Yale School of Magic!!”
The students continue through key moments of the 20th century, including the birth of modern neurosurgery, rock and roll, the civil rights movement, and the admission of the first African-American woman to the medical school.
The climactic scene, based on Star Wars, pits Sam (played by Alyssa Mitson-Salazar) against “Darth Alpern” (played by Daniel Barson) in a “Doc Off” duel for the soul of the medical school. “Between the consulting gigs and all the talk of RVUs, it’s become so clear that medicine has become such a business,” Sam tells Darth Alpern. “And it seems that you’re doing a great job running that business. But can we still call this doctoring?”
In the end, Darth Alpern promises to hold a Town Hall on the subject and the students find their way back to Cedar Street. And the elusive answer to the question, What was the most important day in the history of the Yale School of Medicine?
“Where would Yale Med be today without every day?” asks Sam. “Without every moment? Without … .”
On a screen in the background, a computer taps out the letters T-O-D-A-Y.