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A Story of Hormones and One Lousy Meeting

Professor Samar Ahmed

By Professor Samar Ahmed

Professor Ahmed is an MD, JMHPE, FAIMER Fellow and faculty. She is the Director at Ain Shams Middle East North Africa FAIMER Regional Institute for Health Professions Education (menafri.faimefri.org).

Walking into a meeting and all you can think about is: “I am wasting my life”. What ever did I do to deserve this hormone flood for no good reason and for no particular gain. A faculty council where clinicians are on the edge of their seats. A room with the capacity of 50 lured into accepting 110 attendees eighty percent of whom were sent in by their departments to sit in and take notes, a humming sound in the background with whispers and mumbling of disinterest, and chairperson who wants this over with in an hour…. not going to happen.

A faculty council is a whole day event unfortunately and it is by far the best opportunity to test your glandular system and make sure you have the correct amounts of hormones and are capable of flooding in all types of cocktails within the span of the meeting. Hormone cocktails are induced intentionally and sometimes without deliberation.

An item often forgotten on the meeting agenda “Test our glandular system capacity”

The powerful dopamine fills your system and the room with every discussed agenda item that leaves you with a cliff hanger…. and the minutes would most probably say: “Ask prof…….what was decided”. This happens when a discussion is initiated regarding interdepartmental matters that need a decision. Examples for this are many and the exhaustive list would be an unfair exhibit at this point of time. Let me dig out a recent one; A new department being initiated out of the womb of another long established department. This is the beautiful incidence when we decide that we have become so good at developing degrees and programs that we decide to take them away from the host department and build a new department on the program shoulders. But then it just so happens that everyone just wants a seat on the Titanic. Departments start claiming their rights to be a part of the new born department and they want their “share” of the newly found success. and then the energy in the room is elevated. Silent people decide that silence is a treason to their departments and it is that they must speak now or forever keep their silence. This is the kind of debate that ends in “So can we please move on?” and people in the room are left in a dopamine rush waiting earnestly for episode two…

The Beautiful Oxytocin that sends the room into a silence and eyes are hung in one direction with the announcement of the monthly deaths among faculty and a question that everyone thinks of and makes sure it is not heard “when will we just be a name on the monthly list…I wonder”. This hormone just gushes through veins when the department chair decides to say a word or two within in tribute of a certain faculty who killed himself at work and was the kindest and most passionate about his patients and who was an amazing teacher leaving behind students and shoes that will be very difficult to fill.

Endorphins kick in when you start getting non stop beeps on your silent phone telling and when you answer through messaging receive the dreaded response that there will be an urgent meeting back to back with this one and that back in your office and that your dedicated secretary thought it would be wise to get you prepared while you were still glued to the first meeting. this is when you start laughing alone and people around you might realize the surge of happiness that has just come over you for no good reason. Sometimes the psychiatrists in the room would raise an eyebrow in intrigue and this will then put the happy hormone to rest once and for all. It is good to be happy but it is not worth losing your academic reputation over it.

Just as you start thinking that the day will be happily over with the beautiful hormone cocktail you just received another cocktail kicks in with a fair amount of adrenalin and cortisol shooting down the back of your neck and being fair natured start demonstrating a good deal of facial congestion and shallow breathing. This arrives in time to let you go to make sure that you waste the rest of your day dealing with the migraine and the shooting blood pressure. Of course you can try to breathe and look for your so-called diaphragm to regulate your breathing but the truth is, you are taken by surprise when you hear that your name is mentioned for encroaching on other peoples’ responsibilities and work and that you are told to “take it easy” ” You do not have to be doing everything”. Once you receive your meeting allowance of adrenaline-cortisol mixture you are in no mood to be rational. The whole world seams to be attacking you and it is time to fight back. Make sure you leave the room feeling in attacking mode and stay with that feeling for the rest of the day… Take care you do have another meeting back to back with this. But this is another story..