I spent my Wednesday afternoon in the same way that I have spent most of my afternoons at Yale: sitting in Willoughby’s, writing a story about the Yale School of Medicine. A few days prior, 85 graduating medical students had matched into residency programs, celebrating the milestone with faculty, friends and family members.
But Yale’s 2015 graduating medical school class had a different take on commemorating the grueling monthslong application process for securing a residency position. Four years ago, they created a musical parody video of the match process. Aptly titled “Rank List,” the video spun the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” to also mock the drudgery ahead of them as they matched into their residency programs. The video features a picnic in the medical school library rotunda, a student wearing a horse mask and another squeezing lubricant on his finger as the shot pans to a soon-to-be doctor lying on an examination table wearing only underwear. The lyrics joke about learning to give rectal exams during medical training.
The 2015 Yale video is just one of the many parodies made by medical school students across the country each year. Most of the parodies posted to YouTube are catchy and well produced. They seem to inspire camaraderie among the students who create them and have certainly given medical school hopefuls a motivating behind-the-scenes glance into the life of these students. But sometimes the videos are unprofessional or at best bizarre.
As far as I can tell, the first of these parodies hit YouTube in 2009, when two medical students posted a video titled “Jizz in my Scrubs,” which tastefully borrows from the song “Jizz in my Pants” by The Lonely Island. Since then, hundreds of these parody videos have been published on YouTube — there were at least 47 published in the last year alone — and they use popular songs to mock life as a medical student.
In 2015, Harvard Medical School students posted the video “#STUDY,” a parody of The ChainSmoker’s “#SELFIE” that takes a jab at the medical school’s workload. The video features a shot of a student wearing a tank-top that reads, “Harvard Twerk Team” and “Ivy League brains ghetto ass.” This student proceeds to twerk on a wall at their medical school between two marble busts which, I assume, represent the likenesses of prominent physicians.
Despite their often questionable editorial decisions, these videos have thousands of likes and comments from fans who view them for entertainment or use them as a motivation study aid. One fan wrote on Duke University School of Medicine’s “No Sleep” Wiz Khalifa parody, “its 2am and im still watching med parodies … lool i aint even in medical school.”
Another wrote, “I listen to this every night for emotional support.”
In the comments section on one of Harvard’s parody videos, a viewer Dizzy Lizzy commented, “I remember watching this several times throughout undergrad for ~inspiration~ and thinking to myself, man, one day I’m gonna get there. Finally starting med school this year.”
I feel you, Dizzy Lizzy. I once listened to some of these videos in high school to drag my aspiring premed self through AP Chemistry. My personal favorite parody hails from my hometown of Syracuse, New York. SUNY Upstate Medical University students sing and dance — sans innuendo — to a rendition of a popular Walk the Moon single, which they called “Shut Up and Match With Me.”
In high school, these videos made me — and I’m sure other doe-eyed viewers — dream of a future in medicine. The allure of the charismatic and successful medical school students, as commenter Olissipona writes, “is the real motivation.”
Marisa Peryer | email@example.com .