The Game

“We’re going to play a game” Dr. Vuong said to Erin and me.”I’d like you to go into the next room and ask the patient’s mother everything about the patient but the age. I’ll tell the mother not to reveal to you her baby’s age. Then, I’d like you to come back to me, then using the clues you’ve gathered, tell me what you think the patient’s age is.”

We don’t often have time to play games in med school, but this time, med school is the game.

After Dr. Vuong told the mother briefly her assignment to us, she left. Without further hesitation, Erin and I took turns and proceeded to ask, “Does your baby crawl?”

“Yes,” replied the mother. This means that her baby’s most likely at least 9 months old.

“Does your baby walk?” I asked.

“Not by himself yet, but he can hold onto things to stand,” she replied. Perhaps the child’s not 12 months yet.

“How many words can he say?”

“He says mama, dada, and maybe one or two more.”

“Can he throw things?”


“Can he grasp things with his fingers?


“Can he use fork and spoon yet?”

“No ”

As we kept asking, we determined the child had pretty much all the milestones that indicate he’s over 9 months, and a few that’s even more advanced, but not quite 12 months yet, so Erin and I made an educated guess and told the mother, “we think he’s 11 months.”

The mother chuckled. In situations like this, it”s hard to tell if she was laughing at us because of how off we were or because we were pretty accurate. Either way, we did our best, and chuckled back.

We returned to Dr. Vuong, and told her our final answer.

“Yes, he is 11 months. Good job,” Dr. Vuong answered. We then proceeded the same game with the next patient, and the next. Erin and I had a great time that day and by the end of the day, we felt we could guess any kid’s age.

Lesson of the Day:

It’s in our nature as human beings to love fun, and if we make learning a game, we will learn better.