Medical mystery

- February 23, 2007

A growing mystery has sent Dalhousie medical and dentistry students racing to come up with clues and a solution to a baffling series of events triggered by an shocking lab incident.

According to the graphic description handed to Dal News, the affair began when, "Fred had just finished asking her to look at the slide under his microscope and now he was clutching his throat and gasping for air."

Who is the shadowy woman assistant? Who is Fred? What caused his asphyxia?

All will be revealed to the literary-minded in due course.

The Hidden Link
, a mystery in 11 sentences, to be supplied by medical and dental students at the rate of one sentence a week, began Feb.16 and will wend its way to a conclusion in time for a gala prize-giving April 18 at Pier 21 in Halifax.

There the author of the best sentence will be announced at a Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association Dinner, featuring the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Dr. Vincent Lam. The event will help Quill 'n' Stethoscope, a Narrative Medicine group in Medical Humanities inaugurate its own annual dinner. As a potential bonus, it is hoped Dr. Lam will agree to come up with a title for the student-penned yarn. The event is being held as a  fundraiser for the Dalhousie Humanities in Medicine Program; proceeds will go to The Savage Trust for the Humanities-in-Medicine.

A fitting sentence

Prizes for the winning sentence are dinner for two at Trinity, a well known Halifax restaurant, and a copy of either Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, by Dr. Lam or Privileged Presence by Liz Crocker, chair of the panel of judges and crafter of The Hidden Link's intriguing opening line.

The instigator of The Hidden Link is Dr. Ron Stewart, director of  Medical Humanities. "I thought it was a great idea for a couple of reasons, " he said. "First off, our Narrative Medicine section has a growing group that I've dubbed 'The Quill 'n' Stethoscope'
project, so I am always trying to increase the visibility of literature, reading and books.

"We already do community outreach in support of literacy. We are part of the Dartmouth campaign, and our music program, Music-in-Medicine, supports it with an annual concert in the fall. We also sponsor an annual concert, Tuned in to Words, dedicated to raising funds for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award administered by the Nova Scotia Writers' Federation."

He says The Hidden Link was a fun way to promote interest in narrative among students and faculty and draw attention to Quill 'n' Stethoscope activities.

The idea for The Hidden Link came to Dr. Stewart after listening to a recent line-by-line mystery novel contest staged by CBC Radio One's Information Morning program in Halifax.

The program's two popular co-hosts, Don Connolly and Liz Logan, have agreed to act as judges in Dr. Stewart's gambit. Myra Freeman, the former Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and a past patron of the Faculty of Medicine has also been enlisted as an adjudicator.
The other judges on the panel include Dr. Audrey Shafer, anaesthetist and author, Stanford University; Dr. Kim Blake, paediatrician, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, Dalhousie; Janet Murray, Halifax, author and friend of the Humanities; Marie Thompson, producer, CBC Halifax and community member, the Humanities' Medical School Chorale; Dr. Tom Coonan, former professor and chair, Department of Anaesthesia, Dalhousie; Dr. Marilyn Iwama, author, former Dalhousie chaplain, and Research Fellow, Integrative Science, Cape Breton University; Dr. Helen Ryding, former Associate Dean, and currently a senior professor of the Faculty of Dentistry; Kathy Murphy, Executive Director, The Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association; Dr. Carl Abbott, Associate Professor of Medicine (endocrinology), Dalhousie; Sue Newhook, Assistant Professor, Television, School of Journalism, University of King's College, Halifax, and Betsy Chambers, writer, former journalist, Communications Office, Dalhousie Medicine.


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