Declan Jones was just one of a fair few Sydney Boys High School leavers who secured a place at UNSW Medicine. Declan had always previously enjoyed being the top of his class in maths, right from year 7, where SBHS students are rumoured to dabble in multivariate calculus while the rest of NSW’s 12 year olds are conceivably setting each other’s hair alight with deodorant can flamethrowers.

Since starting medicine at UNSW, Declan’s mathematical ability has been put to the test. Most mortifying, was an incident during a clinical skills session during HMA.

“I was taking a pulse,” Declan recounted, eyes glassing over as he relived the experience. “I mean, just being able to simultaneously count beats while looking at my watch for 15 seconds made me dizzy. But then I had to calculate beats per minute and that’s when it all fell apart. What’s 23 times 4?! Who knows that? Should I?! In the end, I panicked and just said 74. Later I realised that’s not even a multiple of 4. And, yes, by ‘later’, I mean 4am.”

Declan always used to be looked up to by his peers, being able to answer the hardest questions in class, both from his teachers and friends. On the rare occasion that Declan would go out, he would impress those polite enough to listen about the distances and angles of projection needed for a quality movie screen.

Now, he reports frequent episodes of mathematical inadequacy, such an inability to calculate the positive predictive value for the combined oral contraceptive pill. To his dismay, his engineering and computer science friends, who collectively have enough scholarship money to alleviate a small country’s debt, are rapidly leaving him in the dust in the mathematical department.

While he was unsuccessfully trying to locate his apex beat in a clinical skills class, the team from the Jugular caught up with him: “It’s really weird how all my plebeian friends are now mathematically superior to me, and it’s a little bit strange to go from solving with imaginary numbers to grappling with simple division and percentages and – Sorry, can we continue this later? Counting ribs is hard.” We left him muttering and confused over the 5th intercostal space.

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