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Shelf exams are the stuff of dreams

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2011 - Spring


In the Class of 2013’s Second-Year Show, faculty devise an alternate reality for the class president.

Anyone who mastered the convoluted plot of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Inception would have had little trouble following the story line of Staph Inception, the Class of 2013’s Second-Year Show. Loosely based on the movie, the show depicted faculty invading the dreams of class president Chris Sauer in the hope of persuading him to support shelf exams—National Board of Medical Examiners standardized tests that students oppose.

The plot follows Sauer playing himself in videos and dance routines as a “Mysterious Girl” (played by Katherine Chau) lures him from Club Med to a clinical suite where faculty members chloroform him. They then use an inception device invented by the whiskey-swigging James Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., head of the M.D./Ph.D. program (played by Graeme Rosenberg), to implant an alternate reality in his dreams. These dreams take Sauer back to high school and lead him on a different path through college and med school. His high school crush Quinn, played by Stephanie Meller, is really Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’93, associate dean for student affairs. She’s in cahoots with other instructors to steer Sauer toward support for the shelf exams.

As Sauer travels through four layers of dreams he must, among other things, choose between Quinn and singing in a boy band; attend a career fair; resist the temptation of a life of debauchery in fashion design; and finally be saved by a dream “defense” that was also implanted in his brain.

Charisse Mandimika was the show’s executive producer and Misia Yuhasz was the executive director. Writers and directors included Yuhasz, Felicity Lenes, Greg Stachelek, Nick Theodosakis, and Brian Zhao.

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