Soren trailed after his new wizard master as they walked through Phoenixdale University's medical center. Her heels clicked on the floor, and Soren speedwalked to keep up. Having just graduated from Phoenixdale himself, he knew the ins and outs of the campus.
"Madam Oak!" Soren exclaimed to grab her attention. "Why must we walk so fast?"
"Every moment we waste is a moment we could be saving someone," she replied.
They approached a cot containing a young boy, twelve years old tops, with hair that stood up straight from static. Everyone once in a while, he flinched as a shock of pain shot through him.
"What seems to be the problem?" Madam Oak asked, her glare contrasted her small form.
"I tried to use an electricity spell," the boy replied, "but it shocked me instead."
"The effects will wear off in an hour or so," Madam Oak replied. "Don't touch anything metal until then or drink any water, as it will amplify the shocks running through your body. Oh and please be careful next time. You could've stopped your heart with that spell."
"Yes'm" the boy replied.
Soren and Madam Oak walked on to their next patient. A girl sat on the cot, at first appearing perfectly fine. Then, she opened her mouth a frog's tongue popped out.
"And exactly how did this happen?" Madam Oak asked, one eyebrow raised.
"I turned myself into a frog, but misspoke the spell to turn back," the girl said.
"Make a note." Madam Oak tuned to Soren, then back to girl. "A potion can be concocted to reverse this. Ingredients include: one head garlic, two quarts sunberry juice, and the tongue of a frog." She glanced at the girl. "Er not your tongue obviously."
They moved on again. By this point Soren huffed and puffed, struggling to keep up. Madam Oak slowed her pace as they came up to an older boy, maybe fourteen years old of age. His face was a glossy red and held a pained expression.
"Who's the punk?" the patient called out, gesturing at Soren.
"Just a medical student; he'll be taking notes and observing-" Madam Oak started.
"Will he be here the whole time?" he asked, cutting Madam Oak off.
"No. He can leave if you want." Madam Oak replied, as she walked in closer to examine the patient.
"Yeah! Get him the hell outta here!" he lashed out.
"That was just a courtesy; he's staying. Soren, take note; patient's mental status is afflicted and prone to outbursts." Madam Oak said, somehow muttering authoritatively. Soren nodded his head as he tried to keep up.
"Yes Madam… Um, may I ask a question?" Soren said as he cautiously walked in closer.
"Stop, don't approach the patient and don't waste time with questions- Actually, I'm at a loss, ask away." Madam Oak said, furrowing her brow intently as she concluded the brief examination.
"Well what I meant to ask is how you're sure his mental status caused the outburst?" Soren said, internally beaming with pride at what he thought was a brilliant question.
"Is… Is that what you wrote down?" Madam Oak's eyes widened with concern.
"Uh hey! Medicine jerks! Aren't you supposed to be treating me or somumumuaaah." The patient said as his lips fell flat mid-sentence.
"Is he okay?" Soren asked, stumbling to the patient as Madam Oak giggled.
"Silence spell: note it as treatment for the outburst." Madam Oak said, immediately returning to full seriousness, "And speaking of which, no, his mental state didn't cause the outburst. Which is what's confusing me."
"Hmm…" Soren said as he pretended to search through the file for answers, subtly changing his notes.
"Soren, comb through your file for any medical history indicating an underlying syndrome." Madam Oak said over her shoulder.
"Already on it-" Soren began to say.
"No you weren't, and you'll get bad marks for falsifying notes." Madam Oak shot back cooly. Soren broke into a nervous sweat as he began his research in earnest.
"Alright, eh… Got a problem." He said as he frantically flipped through the folder labelled 'East Wing Med Hist.'.
"What?" Madam Oak asked.
"He doesn't have any medical history on file, but wait! Okay, here's his disciplinary history, maybe we can find something from that?" Soren asked with a nervous smile.
"Soren, you can be surprisingly competent sometimes." Madam Oak said as she snatched the file, scanning over it.
"So," Soren said, steadying himself, "he has a pretty extensive disciplinary history, think he has some sort of syndrome that presents with anger problems?"
"There's a teachable moment. Use your logic. Which is easier to assume: A student has a complicated, hidden syndrome that historically only presented with one of its symptoms; or a student with a past of stupid actions does something else stupid and hurts himself?" Madam Oak retorted.
"Hmm, alright, let me think about this-" Soren began.
"No. That was a rhetoric question verging on sarcasm. The answer is he lied upon admission and now our only clue are his present symptoms." Madam Oak said.
"It's not our only clue." Soren said, walking up to the patient. "What would he lie about on admission? What pattern of behavior not only lead to past disciplinary action, but also repeated reckless, harmful behaviour?" At that question, Madam Oak cleared her throat .
"That defies physician patient confidentiality. I can't say that in front of you," she said, hiding a blush.
"What? No! I'm saying it's an academic problem. Check his records. He got in fights with other students, right? Eh, don't answer that, confidentiality and all that…" Soren rattled over and he paced, "It's magic exhaustion, isn't it?"
"You're a student. Don't give diagnoses or make guesses." Madam Oak replied sternly. "
"It was just a question. What else explains his symptoms in absence of information, other than the overuse of magic?" He asked.
"Alright, note that and leave the room. Patient's request." Madam Oak said as she undid the silence spell. At that, Soren left, making sure to close the door behind him.
"You crazy bastards! I don't know who you think you are, but I'll have you disbarred! It's still called disbarred if you're a doctor, right?" The patient loudly ranted, such that they could be heard through the hallway. Soren whistled and twiddled his thumbs, hoping no one would ask him any inopportune questions.
Soren stood watching the clock tick, each second as a moment bottled in time, hanging on the shelf of a lousy souvenir shop. Needless to say, he felt hopelessly out of place. Finally, the door opened and Soren stood up at attention, ready to be reprimanded.
"So, umm, what was wrong with him? Miss- uh I mean, Madam Oak?" Soren asked, "I mean, what he's sick with, not why he's such a jerkwad."
"Don't call your patients jerkwads, even if it's true. And yes… You were right, simple Magic Exhaustion." Madam Oak said through a thin grin. Then thumped his head.
"Oow! What was that for?" Soren said, even though it didn't hurt all that much.
"You were getting prideful, terrible thing. Still, you did good. Shall I begin your evaluation?" Madam Oak asked.
"Yes ma'am," Soren said, his stomach suddenly turning with knots. Madam Oak eyed him carefully, noting his nervousness. At this, the knots turned into an outright tapestry.
"Perhaps a little pride isn't such a bad thing. You did exceedingly well with logical problem solving and the basics of differential diagnosis. However, that's not what I'm grading you for." Madam Oak trailed off.
"Oh, well, maybe you can offer extra credit then?" Soren said, perking up.
"Yes, but it's offset by the fact that you interrupted me." Madam Oak said, her ire apparent. "You made decent time too. Even though it had been the last patient, you gave him proper and equal attention. I can't mark you off for inappropriate response given the patient's behavior, though I will warn you to be more cautious in the way you speak in front of them… That's all for the positives."
Soren grinned. Not bad, he thought to himself. A slight worry floated in the still, cool air of the hall as he realized his teacher had hardly the same look of satisfaction.
"Now for the negatives." Madam Oak said, as Soren's glee sizzled away like spoiled bacon. "Your pace and sense of urgency was utterly absent. Somehow you fumbled your way through to making time, but had there been a single delay you would've caused several patients unnecessary discomfort and harm! Not only did you fail to respect even academic timeliness, you further risked medical expedience."
"Yes Madam, I sincerely apol-" Soren said.
"I'm not done yet." Madam Oak cut him off, continuing. "I will try to make this brief, however, I know all too well one can use many words to mean very little. In light of that, overall, you did well. But you have much to improve on, chief among your flaws being your unapproved correction and updating of notes. That alone takes off fifteen marks. Your grade for this assignment is an eighty."
Soren froze, his heart stopping as he took in the crushing blow of her words. Tears welled in his eyes, but he wouldn't, couldn't, let them fall.
"But… I need an eighty-five to pass," he said.
"I won't falsify my reports," Madan Oak said, voice stern.
"Please!" Soren's breathing sped up. "I-I need to, to…"
He trailed off, anxiety overtaking him, as his throat seemed to close up. He coughed and tears flowed down his face at a rapid pace. A hand gently pat his head.
"Breathe," a calm voice reminded him. "Take a deep breath in and hold it for five seconds before letting it out."
Soren did as Madam Oak told him and after a moment his anxiety calmed. He wiped tears from his face. Madam Oak smiled warmly, something Soren hardly thought she had the capacity to do.
"You can always re-apply for a medical license next year." Madam Oak said.
Soren shook his head. "The fee is too expensive."
"Well, I can't simply let talent get away, can I?" Oak sighed. "I do have an apprenticeship open."
"So… you will?"
"I expect you up bright and early tomorrow and with more energy than a drunk slug this time."
"Yes ma'am!" Soren smiled wide.