Monday, November 27, 2006

Another Intersession

My school has decided that the best way to standardize the education of its students, who rotate through different hospitals and *gasp* might learn different things during those rotations, is to bring the whole class back together for more classroom experience before letting us have a winter break.

It has been, for all my complaining, an illuminating experience. I sat at lunch today with six of my most successful classmates, the kind of people who already know where they are matching, because the residency director took one look at their scores, saw them on the wards, and accepted them on the spot. Among this group of luminaries, I posed the question: looking back at all this, would you come to medical school again? Not a single person said yes.

The afternoon was a series of three classes on "Shared Decision Making" which is a fancy way of saying "be nice, and don't pretend you're a god." I figure if you haven't figured that out, you're going into surgery, and if you have, you're not going to learn anything from it. The last thing I need is to hear some know-it-all tell a moving story and then follow it up with a threat to "sue a doctor I doesn't[sic] like." I felt all the compassion they were trying to bolster draining out of me as she droned on with her poor grammar and utter inability to face the fact that her medical problems were largely due to choices she had made, and that the projection wasn't becoming.

That's not very compassionate, I know. Chameleon-like, I can take such attitudes from my surroundings. And when I think back to first year, contrasting the classes then with the one today, I'm struck with the memory of people actually smiling then. People excited to become doctors. Now it seems we're just exhausted and angry. Sam Shem in The House of God says something about being able to tell, just by looking at them, the difference between a student just starting their third year and one just starting their fourth, because the fourth year is the one with the cynicism about the entire enterprise. I don't think the cynicism really abates until after residency, and sometimes, not even then. But I can definitely feel the pull towards it I was warned against while starting med school. People say "don't let them change you," but like Vader said: "you don't understand the power of the Dark Side of the Force."


Anonymous said...

The best surgeons know that too.

Nathan said...

This is true. I have met compassionate surgeons, and they are wonderful. My rather sardonic mood boiled over a bit there.

Anonymous said...

Not if you watch Grey's Anatomy they don't, Zhoen :)

Heh. But yes, I've had the privilege of working with some great surgeons who were completely down-to-earth. Makes me wanna become one myself someday. If my carpal tunnel and poor eyesight don't take me down first, of course.

Good post, Nathan. A little disheartening to poor pre-clinical slaves like me though :(

Anonymous said...

I think a part of what makes it a tough relization that medicine isn't all it's cracked up to be is the fact that you have to fight so hard to get into it. I mean, if people want to do it so badly, it's got to be great, right? Hah, if only I'd known sooner.

Anonymous said...

ok, I made a spelling mistake, but I'm studying and really tired, forgive me.