A day of lectures. Nothing terribly memorable, except that I found out, about ten minutes before class was to begin, that I had to have a "1-2 page paper relating to the issues of professionalism or ethics" typed up and ready to discuss with the class. I was a bit concerned, but then this, my blog occurred to me. So I went online, printed up a previous post, and took that. Saved!
The discussion itself touched on professionalism, but soon became a discussion of the shortcomings in modern medical education. We talked a bit about what is called the "unwritten curriculum" of medical school, which refers to the fact that though we are constantly taught sympathy, compassion, and concern, as soon as we reach the wards, we see sarcasm, cynicism, and laziness. It makes effecting any change difficult, for actions truly speak louder than words. It is apparently the subject of some debate in the educational medical community.
Certainly, I've seen the attitude, and I've seen the effects, even in myself. I was not a person I would associate with when I finished my surgery rotation, and a huge part of that change in my personality was due to my surroundings. I am no longer surprised at statistics like "physicians are more than twice as likely than the general population to kill themselves" and "physicians divorce at a rate 10 to 20 percent higher than the rest of the population" and "even physicians who stay married report more unhappy marriages than the general population." Some of these statistics are the subject of considerable debate, and some are old, but even the least controversial studies point to the profession as a risk factor for divorce and suicide. Scary. And I read another study recently which polled interns across the country and found a 75% rate of suicidal ideation.
Thoughts like this are the ones that didn't come to me until after I'd gotten to medical school. I don't remember what I thought it would be like, but I know I didn't expect most of this life. Certainly the vast majority of my classmates would say their perceptions of medicine before coming were wildly diferent from reality. A sizable majority would say they've considered suicide since coming to medical school, and in my class, with about 40 married students, there have already been three divorces in the past two years. No one has committed suicide, thankfully, but statistically, it wouldn't be unusual.
I wonder, often, what peculiar undiagnosed mental disease we all share to stay.