Though almost everyone remembers the classic 1998 episode of Seinfeld “The Burning” in which Kramer and his friend Mickey get jobs acting out symptoms of diseases for training sessions for students in medical school, many actors know that this is actually a real gig that medical schools have found increasingly useful for training. While it has proven to be a great way for an actor to make money in between roles, it turns out it can even be life-saving for an actor, too. That’s because according to a press release from the University of Virginia, a student at the University of Virginia School of Medicine named Ryan Jones actually saved the life of his “fake” patient with his cautionary diagnosis.
In March, actor Jim Malloy, who along with his wife Louise regularly act out symptoms for such training exercises, was portraying a man with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a common but potentially life-threatening aneurysm. Even though Malloy was “acting,” Jones suspected that Malloy actually did have an AAA. Jones passed along this information to a doctor who was supervising the “diagnosis,” and the doctor recommended that Malloy make an appointment with a cardiologist.
When Malloy scheduled an appointment several months later, the doctor revealed that he did have a large AAA and would likely have died because of it if it hadn’t been discovered by Jones. Malloy had surgery in August and has been healthy since.
Surprisingly, Jones did not know what came of his life-saving advice until he ran into Louise again during another standardized patient assignment in August. She expressed gratitude to Jones for likely saving her husband’s life, and said in the press release, “Jim’s life was saved by a UVA medical student, no doubt about it.”
Jones is currently interviewing for his residency. As for Jim Malloy, let’s hope that’s the only time his life imitates his art!