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Edmonton Journal article: "Medical students' show offends nurses dean: Head of nursing demands an official investigation"

Jodie Sinnema   
The Edmonton Journal  

May 19, 2005

EDMONTON - The University of Alberta's dean of nursing is calling for an official investigation after receiving complaints about raunchy, sexist lyrics that were sung at the annual medical students' MedShow this spring.

The song, entitled The Nurses' Song and sung to a tune from Jesus Christ Superstar, reads, "You've been getting quite a name / All around the place / Being bitches / Screwing up meds / Now we understand you're whores." Its refrain includes, "Come on show me those boobs," repeated throughout the song.

Nursing dean Genevieve Gray said a written apology from the medical students responsible for the offensive song was not acceptable.

"I thought it was pretty weak," Gray said. "They made no attempt to really come and make time to see me or talk to me about this and what they really said was, 'Well, look, if you don't like it, tell your students not to actually come to the show next year.' "

She said nurses in her faculty feel slighted by their medical colleagues.

The MedShow is considered infamous by some for its perennial risque material, but is liked by others who see the black humour as a way to release stress while studying to become doctors. It's put on every year by medical students as a fundraiser for the graduating class.

This year's three-day event in late March was seen by a soldout crowd at the Myer Horowitz Theatre.

"It's clearly connected with the university and I don't think we want this sort of behaviour or attitude within the University of Alberta," Gray said. "Quite honestly, I don't think those students ought to be on board with us."

Gray said she spoke with university provost Carl Amrhein, asking him to conduct an investigation into the event.

"I don't really think we should be producing medical graduates into the health workforce who have these attitudes," Gray said, adding that professors should be educating their students about what behaviour is inappropriate.

"This is really very serious depiction of nursing and women."

Amrhein agreed it's a serious matter.

"We are not going to tolerate this kind of abuse of the privilege of being in a university," Amrhein said, noting that people attending previous MedShow events described them as hilarious, sometimes bawdy, but never offensive. "This is way beyond the line of being acceptable."

Amrhein said the dean of medicine is waiting to receive a clear, written plan from the medical students on how they will be accountable for their actions next year. Without that, the student association and the event could be banned from campus.

Tom Marrie, dean of medicine and dentistry, walked out of this year's show after 10 minutes. Soon after, he met with the executive of the medical students' association that puts on the MedShow and demanded that changes be made for next year or the historic show would be cancelled. He also told the students to offer an apology to the dean of nursing.

"I don't want this to happen ever again," he said. "I wasn't proud of them in this particular instance. Ordinarily, they are a really good bunch of kids in almost everything else they do. It doesn't reflect well on us as a faculty of medicine."