Medical origami

My first GP tutor at med school was an inspiration. He would often whisk us away from other tasks because he had a patient with an interesting clinical sign he wanted us to see – some poor man with hyperreflexia perhaps, who would then be subjected to a line of six bright-eyed medical students inexpertly bashing his knees. He once drove us for half an hour across town for the sole purpose of listening to a pleural rub. And he’d come out with gems like “If you don’t know what’s going on, send the patient to do a urine sample. It makes them feel better and gives you time to think.”

Anyway, one day he taught us some quick origami for keeping children entertained in clinic. I promptly forgot his instructions, and a couple of years on I’ve lost count of the times I’ve wished I could remember them. I mean, as someone who spends most of her time hanging out in the corner of clinic rooms*, there are a lot of occasions when it’d be nice to have something to cheer up the restless little sister of the boy who’s been brought in with chickenpox or something. Luckily I found the original in a drawer the other day, so here goes:

Take a square of paper (the page from the back of your notebook is fine). Fold it diagonally, then turn over and fold horizontally, as so:


Bring the corners in and fold down to make a smaller square. (I suspect this bit has a fancy origami name.)


Fold the top and back layers down so you have this:


Now fold the top sides down to the centre – both layers – to get this:


Extract the flap that’s in the middle, and fold it up and over the outside, like this:

IMG_2697Turn over. The next part is the fiddliest, but worth it. Fold out the top layer of each triangle from the middle, like this…


… and add personality!

IMG_2701Et voila! He fits on the end of your finger.


Our tutor claimed that he wasn’t doing too well in his paediatrics clinical exam years ago, but then made this, made the kid smile, and passed. I reckon that’s a skill worth having!

*I mean obviously I’m working really really hard at the same time, but sometimes you can get away with this stuff while the doctor’s back is turned.