"Ohmigod! You never heard of Nicki Minaj?" she says, when asked about the soundtrack for "Doctor," her med-school parody based on the wild-wigged Minaj's acclaimed guest appearance in Kanye West's "Monster" video.
Inspiration for the video came over dinner at a pub that was running a promotion some months back.
"They were handing out these crazy purple wigs for free. I love wigs, and I love bright colors, so I was fairly delighted. It reminded me a lot of Nicki Minaj because she wears all sorts of wacky wigs and outfits," said Prokuski, 24, who hails from the Chicago suburbs. "The song 'Monster' was playing on the radio a lot around that time, and she has a verse in it. Both of these things together started my wheels turning, and soon after that I resolved to do the rap parody."
What does this have to do with training to be a doctor?
Not much, directly. But Prokuski's insistence on pursuing her creative development despite the rigors of medical school is part of a growing trend in doctors' training nationwide, and one for which Drexel is known.
"What we are really trying to do is make sure that physicians who graduate obviously are very smart but are also very caring and compassionate," said John E. Prescott, chief academic officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges and former dean of West Virginia University School of Medicine.
"It is really getting much more in tune with some of your senses," Prescott said, so doctors learn to "listen more carefully and communicate more effectively."
Many schools make some connection between medicine and the humanities. Others venture further into the arts.
Drexel has a full-fledged program intended to help students "understand their own inner process of becoming a physician," said Steven Rosenzweig, an emergency-medicine doctor who directs the medical humanities program.
Students can take elective classes on several topics. The most popular is "Cutting Cold Flesh," Rosenzweig said. "It looks at gross anatomy, dissecting cadavers, through history, culture, literature, religion, spirituality, and representational art."
Eight students completed a more intensive scholarly concentration last year, producing papers on topics ranging from "I Have What!?! Medical Naming Conventions" to "Islam and Christianity: A Comparison of Health Care Viewpoints."
Prokuski is in that program now. Drexel's emphasis was a key reason she came here. "Who wants to go to a doctor who hasn't had other human interaction?" she said.
Growing up, she was always "theoretically" interested in medicine but studied English and anthropology in college and did a lot of theater. Then she interned at a coroner's office and discovered autopsies.
"I was just blown away by the intricacies of the body," Prokuski said. "I told my mom, 'Mom, if I never see another autopsy again, I will be so depressed.' And she said, 'You have to go to medical school.' "
In between auditioning for roles in Shakespeare on Philadelphia-area stages, creating a Higgs boson particle from wood, and volunteering at an HIV clinic came the idea for the video, which was presented at a January fund-raiser for pediatric AIDS. The writing - her first for a video - took weeks, given the complex rhymes of rapper Minaj. Undergraduate film students shot 120 minutes of footage, edited down to 2:21.
Two professors have cameo roles, and Prokuski said she checked appropriateness with her dean beforehand.
Still, basing a doctor video on a genre that flaunts misogyny may invite controversy - although Minaj's actual "Monster" turn, while rife with obscenity, is more about a woman in power. Medical-school parodies - some far more inappropriate than this - have been around for as long as smart students have been put in pressure-cooker situations with deadly diseases.
For better or worse, however, until recently you couldn't glimpse your surgeon-to-be holding up a brain on YouTube as she rhymes:
Dope goals, those are frontal lobar
So hope, go far, run the OR
Brains growin' like a zygote, guess who's got a white coat
I'm gonna be a doctor.
View the parody video
Contact staff writer Don Sapatkin at 215-854-2617 or email@example.com.