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to the story. When I heard Joseph’s voice outside my office talking to Junia, I buzzed her and asked her to send him in.

“What’s this all about, Joseph, and how can I help?’

“Well, I had trouble with microbiology and I had to take a makeup. The problem was, I had to take Part I of the boards before the makeup, but they didn’t want me to. I had already paid my money, and I couldn’t start the third year if I did not pass the boards. So the good news is I passed the boards, including the micro section, but the bad news is they say I flunked the makeup. So that, plus some troubles I had in the first year, means I have to leave school.”

“Joseph, do you want me to intervene?”

“No, Dr. F. In fact, you could be part of the problem. They want to know how a ‘marginal’ student could spend so much time volunteering in Haiti.”

“Joseph, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are ‘marginal.’ You will be a great doctor. The problems are that English is not your first language and you’re working three jobs to pay your way through school. But I don’t see what the issue is. You passed your boards. That ought to count as the makeup!”

I shared all of this with Michel. “It’s like the school has put a zombie curse on poor Joseph,” I confided.

“It’s a triple curse,” Michel came back. “Three strikes and you’re out: He’s poor, he’s black, and he’s Haitian.”

“They’re trying to make an example of him, I know it. The whole medical education department is new, and they’re obsessed with grades and board scores. They probably didn’t expect him to pass his boards, and that’s why they didn’t want him to take the foolish test!”

Mark, the new senior associate dean for medical education, was one of my former residents and one of the original collaborators on our AIDS study. Perhaps I could reason with him.

“Hi, Mark. This is Art. I’m calling about Joseph.”

“He’s in big trouble, Art. Don’t try to defend him. He should never have taken the boards without my permission.”

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