Theodoric of York: On Medical Simulation Training of Olde

Theodoric of York StillshotFor those old enough to remember Saturday Night Live during the Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner days…you may also remember the recurring character, Theodoric of York: The Medieval Barber, played by Steve Martin, fresh off his King Tut tour. Martin’s “medieval barber” was the town physician, who gave the phrase ‘practicing medicine’ new meaning (click here for a blast from the past). As one of Theodoric’s experimental treatments after another fails to heal a trusting citizen-character, he good-naturedly says:

…unfortunately, we barbers are not Gods. You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we’re learning all the time. Why just 50 years ago we would’ve thought your daughter’s illness was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But now a days, we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors. Perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach…

…Perhaps I’ve been wrong to blindly follow the traditions and superstitions of the past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test those assumptions analytically. To experimentation and scientific method. Perhaps this scientific method could be extended to other fields of learning. Like natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation, perhaps I could lead the way to a new age. An age of rebirth. A Renaissance!


Whether or not these talented, SNL comedy sketch writers of the 70s knew how close to medical training they might be hitting, we would all like to trust that our own medieval barber of today has a few more practice rounds under his/her belt before taking one’s skills to the streets. Thanks to medical simulation training of today, an increasing number of resident physicians, medical and nursing students have already perfected their skills on life-like practice mannequins that talk and bleed with unsettling realism before practicing on patients–a practice all too common not very long ago. Not surprising that medical education would eventually catch up to the bar being set by the special effects capabilities of Hollywood action films, trainees who experience modern-day medical simulation will tell you how real some of these manufactured medical crises feel.

Stay tuned for stories from the frontlines of care on how medical simulation training can positively influence both patient and caregiver safety.

One Comment on “Theodoric of York: On Medical Simulation Training of Olde”

  1. […] direct opposition to last week’s tongue in cheek poke at Medical Simulation of Olde, according to leadership and Director of MedStar SiTEL (and Human Factors Center at MedStar […]

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