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April 06, 1984 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-04-06
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Gunning through
medical school

By Georgea Kovanis

HE basement commons of the
niversity medical school resembles
a cocktail lounge, with dim lighting and
restaurant-style booths. It looks com-
fortable and relaxing.
But even though it's early afternoon,
students are already filtering into the
area with backpacks in hand, mum-
bling about the upcoming exam. By 7<
p.m., the room will be packed with
students nervously thumbing through
texts and class notes.
Tension is building.
There are only four days left until
Monday, when the first and second-
year medical school students must take
theirconcurrents, the monthly exams
which cover all the labs and lectures in
the preceding four weeks, and they
aren't easy.
"(Concurrents) are like hell, only
worse," says Mike Mott, a third-year
Inteflex student. "You come out, your
mind is fried; if you can see straight
you're lucky," he says.
Medical school students say it's not
unusual to study upwards of 30 hours
the Saturday and Sunday before a con-
The pressure of taking in the reams of
material in medical school takes its
toll. Dr. James Taren, associate dean
for educational affairs and student af-
fairs, says about one-third of the
students go to the school's Mental
Health Clinic for counseling.
"The hours are very long, the
requirements are difficult, there's a lot
of stress associated with medical

year, the game has been refined into
Gunner Bingo, where pictures of studen-
ts take the place of numbers on a bingo
card. Students' pictures are marked,
each time they ask a question, and as
soon as a cardholder gets five marks
vertically, diagonally or horizontally,
the cry of "Bingo" rings out.
While the material is most difficult in
medical school, it is a student's un-
dergraduate performance which
decides whether he or she will ever
have the chance to gong a gunner - or
be one.
The number of students who make it
in each year - about 190 out of the 3,000
to 4,000 applicants - have won out in a,
struggle that involves high grades, top
test scores, money, and sometimes
even sabotaging other students' ex-
The average undergraduate grade
point for a student admitted into the
University's medical school is a 3.6. "If
you have less than a 3.5 you'd better
have real good test scores, real good
life experience, and look good at the in-
terview," says Dave Brenner, a third-
year medical student.
Rob Weinfeld, a senior who has been
accepted into the medical school, says
other interests are relegated to the
background in the all-important pursuit
of good grades.
"If there was a chemistry exam
coming up. . . there was no way I was
going to do anything but study," he
said. "You don't go to a movie in the
middle of the week when you could have
gone to the library," he says.
Sloughing off can be a critical error,
according to Weinfeld. "If you don't at-
tack classes like you're. going to

By Byron L. Bull
The Style Council
My Every Changing Moods
Gef f en
I N THE OPENING title of the Style
Council's second album release,
Paul Weller laments that he's caught
up in a whirlwind, and this ever
changing mood, and hits the nail
painfully on the head. This is a con-
fused, mish-mash of an album, very
slickly produced, but full of incohesive,
often absurd ideas. A collection for the
most part of sanguine pop songs that's
very pleasant sounding, at a first
casual listening, 'but frustratingly
devoid of any depth under closer
As frontman for the Jam, Paul Weller
was literally at the forefront of the late
'70s new wave explosion. With the Sex
Pistols and The Clash, The Jam wore
instrumental in the revitalizing of rock.
As angry and frustrated as their con-
temporaries were, they also had a
quality uniquely their own, com-
passion and a sense of idealism that seta
them apart from the soapbox cynicism
that formed the core for the punk
movement. The Jam spoke to a
generation of Britons growing up in the
wreckage of an empire with a future as
bleak as their socially and
economically stagnant present.
As a songwriter, Weller wrote
poignant character portraits like
"Private Hell" and scathing social
commentaries such as "Eton Rifles"
and the now classic "That's Enter-
tainment." While his inclination toward
romanticism, from the early
metaphorical "English Rose" to the
late, beautifully wrenching "The Bit-
terest Pill" displayed a maturity and
insight lacking in many older, more ac-
claimed writers. The Jam were
anything but another powerchording
adolescent angst band.
But toward the end Weller pushed the
band in a musical direction that didn't
exploit their potential as much as
please his own taste. The Bitterest Pill
and Beat Surrender EPs, with more
estensive orchestrations, and a heavy
black music influence, were not the
band's forte, and they dissolved shortly
On his own, Weller teamed up ;with
keyboardist Mick Talbot, whose taste

and attitudes more closely paralleled
his own, and they formed The Style
Council, released a quick succession of
singles, and then a compilation album
titled Introducing The Style Council.
The Style council's sound is a softer,
more pop-inclined one. They're more
melodic than The Jam, but far more
highly derivative. The'band pays a
heavy debt to '60s pop-soul, and in fact
could be described as neo-Motown.
With a use of Vocals, and arrangements
so thoroughly imitative it transcends
homaging to the point of pure
Weller, from the earliest days of The
Jam (when the band was labeled a Who
clone for their revived mod look and
Weller's use of Townshendian chord
progressions) often talked about a
cyclical theory of music. One in which
bands returned to the music's roots to
revitalize, expand upon, and eventually
return to again. The Style Council is
that theory practiced to an extreme.
The raw passion that once fired
Weller's music is gone. The Style Coun-
cil is more ofda craftsmanship band.
Heavily mixed and as slick as any
Trevor Horn product. To be fair, as a
performer, Weller is at his peak here.
His voice has never sounded so strong
and soulful, so great in range and
technique. His guitar playing is
technically andsstylistically far richer
than what he's ever demonstrated
before. And the arrangements with co-
producer Peter Wilson, the horns in
particular, glow with a seemingly effor-
tless sheen.
Musically this is a very pleasant
sounding record. Weller's pure joy at
playing runs at an infectious high. Fur-
thermore, the chameleon-like ease with
which Weller and bands swap styles,
from jazz to funk to even big band, is
amazing. But so much musical bed
hopping is part of what robs this album
of its heart. It's just too cleverly eclec-
tic for its own fun. Weller isn't adapting
styles as much as simply imper-
sonating them. He's like an im-
pressionist who can get the voice right
but can't act to fill the needs of the role.
Once the novelty of his tricks wears off
there's little else of interest.
Consequently, once you start
listening to the lyrics you realize
Weller's muse is on leave. Why else
would he take a love song and drop in a
corpse of a line like, I might be a king,
and steal my people's things/But I
don't get into that power crazy way.
While in another song he lapses into
idiosyncratically dense gibberish that
says, Teardrops turn to children -
who've never had the time/ To
commit the sins they pay for
through - another's evil mind.
The one theme that runs through the
love songs on the album (there's six of
them) is an immaturely idealistic one.
Weller expects us to believe that good
thoughts and love will overcome all ob-

The Style Council: Council of Sa i uine pop

Taren: Medical rigors

stacles, that in time, if we all keep our
spirits up, the world's problems will
fade. That's a disturbing syllogism for
the same person who wrote the
viciously accurate account of man's
inhumanity to his own in "Bricks And
Two of the songs are needless
revisions of material from the first
album. "Headstart for Happiness" is
doctored up with some cute ad libs and
turned into a male-female duet that
lacks any of the original's charm, and
would sound comfortably bad over AM
radio. While "The Paris Match," a
genuinely affecting bit of melancholia
in its original, sparser setting is
overorchestrated and stuffed into a
Cole Porter-George Gershwin
arrangement. Sung by a woman named
Tracey Thorn with silky smoothness,
the song's bittersweet lyrics get lost in
the musical mire, and the result is as
soothing as listening to rainfall, but also
as evocative.
One would expect the politically-
oriented songs to be the strongest, but
in fact they're the album's weakest par-
ts. They're unsophisticated, petty wim-

perings hel
musical con
"The Wh
sounds goo
singing ag
Burrel styl
what he ha
than that (
country an
together ani
against the
so easy, si
wonder how
listener to b
"A Gospe
piece of bla
thought tha
anti-war so
covers of it.
As it is, i
fails to say
up with lin
may look h
their starv
the same s

'There were some people who I learned not
to get near before a chem. test because they
were so hyper.'
-- Nadine Becker
premed student

school. There's no doubt about that,"
Taren says.
To get a competitive edge, some
students ask obscure questions to im-
press the professor. "There are those
people who insist on raising their hand
just to hear the sound of their voice,"
says Ramesh Shivdasani, a second-
year medical student.
The price these students pay is to be
labelled a "gunner" by their
classmates, meaning they are gunning
for better grades.
"When they'have a ten minute break
between classes, they study. They're
gunners," said first-year medical
school student Mark Ebell.
If a gunner is asking too many
questions, other students will play
"Gong the Gunner" by banging on the
springs of their desks. Over the past

medical school, it could be damaging,"
he said.
Weinfeld's example of chemistry is
particularly appropriate because
students say that is the course which
counts the most.
"I think the conventional wisdom is ...
if you don't get an 'A' in organic
chemistry, forget about getting into
medical school," Taren says.
"There are some people who I lear-
ned not to get near before a chem. test
because they were, so hyper," says
Nadine Becker, a senior who is going to
study medicine at Emory University in
Atlanta in the fall.
"There's a lot of people building (the
pressure) up because in everyone's
mind . . . this is the most important
course," she says.
"The whole atmosphere is based on

the fact that when you're applying for
medical school... if you don't make the
grade, you won't get in."
The pressure in organic chemistry
and other premed classes, spurs some
students to psychout others, according
to one student who asked that her,
name not be used.
After a test, "they sit and ask you
'what's your grade' and they'll lie like a
dog. They tell you they got a 98," she
In one of her chemistry classes she
said, some students sabotaged a
precipitation experiment conducted by
a group of classmates.
"I'm not sure what they poured in,
(but) they screwed up the whole ex-
periment," she said.
With a 3.8 grade point average, the student
said other classmates used to call her
"mean killer," referring to her high
scores on tests.
But unlike the rest of the premeds,
she is not applying to medical schools.
She dropped out after a month and now
wants to be a writer.
The shift was anything but easy,
however. "I thought I'd never be
anything unless I was a doctor," she
says. "Money, security.. . it's almost a
Her change of mind will mean one
less woman in a profession that is
already heavily dominated by males.
Only about 28 percent of the Univer-

sity's medical school students are
women - a ratio that some say fosters
a double standard by male students.
"It's interesting that the guys think
it's perfectly OK for a woman to be a
physician - as long as it's not their
wife," said one Inteflex student who
asked that her name not be used.
Women who want to be doctors are
sometimes viewed as stepping into a
profession not meant for them, one
female medical student said. "It's not
an asset to be female and a doctor, but
if you're a man and a doctor, it's won-
derful," she said.
Some students say that
aggressiveness by male students is ac-
cepted, but the same behavior by
female students is frowned upon.
"Competition is just not accepted in
women," says Dan Kreider, a second-
year medical student.
The women who do make it in the
school have to overcome the stigma.
Lisa Zetye, a second-year medical
student, says she has few female frien-
ds outside of the school now because she
finds women in other fields "too wim-
The biases against female doctors
begin when they grow up with books
that always depict doctors as male,
says Pathology Prof. Gerald Abrams.
"I think there are a lot of deep-seated
cultural reasons. . . and thankfully
that's changing," he said.

14 Weekend/Friday, April 6, 1984

3 Week

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