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My God...is med school really this bad?

we're_going_down_swingingwe're_going_down_swinging Registered User Posts: 418 Member
edited January 2007 in High School Student Topics
I've heard over and over again that the road to becoming a doctor is a strenuous (to say the least), but ultimately rewarding. I'm an extremely hard-working high school senior, and I have wanted to enter the medical field for quite while. However, after reading the contents of the link below (the diary of a med school student at Tufts during his third year), I am seriously doubting, for the first time, my chances of being happy as a doctor. Is med school really as bad as this student describes?


Honest responses (especially from current med school students) would be appreciated. Thank you!
Post edited by we're_going_down_swinging on

Replies to: My God...is med school really this bad?

  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,702 Senior Member
    Wow - powerful and frightening stuff - makes me never want to go to a doctor again. My D is thinking premed but has been worried about the very aspects of training described in this link.
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    Having read through a little bit, I will say this: I have no complaints with anything written, but there are -- I can tell, still partway through my first year -- that there are good moments, too.

    Most third years should have... well, friends. In my quick scanning, I didn't see any mention of classmates.

    Some mentors should be happy. Not all. Maybe not even most. But every once in a while, there is going to be a guy who pats you on the shoulder and reminds you that you have the best job in the world.

    Some patients will be grateful. Again -- maybe not the majority, but certainly more than I found in this narrative.

    In other words, sure, the things he mentions all probably happen. And I'm less outraged than he seems to be by some of them. (It's not a pigeon hospital. It's a people hospital. We wouldn't know how to take care of a pigeon even if we wanted to.) But he/she is omitting a lot of the better moments, too.

    PS: Pharmaceutical breakfasts? Third years at my school complain about being too busy to eat, not who's providing the food.
  • we're_going_down_swingingwe're_going_down_swinging Registered User Posts: 418 Member
    He constantly brings up his belief that med school is dehumanizing, and that his peers lost their sense of compassion because they learned to treat patients as objects instead of people...do you think this is true?

    btw, bluedevilmike, on a happier (but kind of random) note, I'm gonna be a Blue Devil myself...class of 2011 :)
  • Darth Raid3rDarth Raid3r Registered User Posts: 227 Junior Member
    wow...I read a couple of teh sections....and it was hard to read.

    Glad to see that a few people commented on the bottom of the pages saying they had very different experiences in medical school and compassion was encouraged.
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    WGDS: Congratulations! It's a great place. You're going to love it there, and you'll turn out very well prepared for medical school. (Your acronym sounds like a television station!)

    The answer is that there's a push-pull involved, and you're only seeing one of them (say, the "push"). Medical school is dehumanizing, and young doctors do get pushed to see patients as objects. They also are pulled the other way by other forces, and that's what this guy is not describing.

    Your attendings, pharmaceutical reps, and nurses may not ever remind you to be human -- although, to be honest, some of them probably will. But at least the patients themselves should. Many medical students, rather than rant and rave about how dehumanizing the system is, instead respond with compassion to the patients themselves. Better to respond positively than write a negative blog, eh?

    So while he accurately describes half the picture, I do think he's ignoring the positive half. Especially for a third year medical student. Goodness. I could see a resident feeling like this, I suppose. Or a long-standing nurse. But not this early on.
  • joannerzjoannerz Registered User Posts: 222 Junior Member
    --"Youthful idealism cannot last," another doctor wrote in JAMA. "This is true in medicine as in a monastery, the military, or the ballet."--
    I read the very beginning, up to this part.
    At this point, a lot of us kids have these high and lofty expectations for medical school/medicine, but I guess all this isn't gonna last forever. And I'm not sure I want to be disillusioned.

    Wait...nvm! I sure as heck DON'T want to be disillusioned! But whereas this guy at Tufts didn't succeed at that, maybe some (or a lot) of us will, you know?
    This is what he says in the preface: I saw medicine as a humanistic career of intimacy - helping people, sharing, caring for people. But what I found was a profession that didn't even seem to care about people. No one around me seemed to question what was happening to them, to the patients, to all of us.

    Um I don't know what to say except that really sucks were it the truth. But my youthful idealism sways me to think that despite outward appearances of perhaps apathy and resignation from everyone, their actions speak otherwise!
  • BigredmedBigredmed Registered User Posts: 3,731 Senior Member
    From what I've read, I find it to be unnecessarily callous and overdramatic. Reading through the "about the author" section though gives a lot of insight into the author's personality, and at least to me, helps explain a lot of why he feels the way he does...I think there is idealism and realism, and a middle ground of being realistically ideal. The amount of activism this individual has taken part in (including writing "anti-copywrite" in the preface) leads me to believe that he exists far past the label of simple idealist...

    As for the "de-humanizing" aspect - I think that it would be false to say that the process didn't change you as a person, but I think that's by necessity. Whether being changed is equivalent to be being de-humanized, I don't know. Doctors deal with things that are so beyond the scope of the general population as to seem absurd. I mean, surgery is an astounding process when you think about it. I'll admit that during my surgery externship during the summer, it often became very easy to forget that there was a real person covered up by those sterile drapes attached to whatever we happened to be operating on, does that make me less human b/c I would forget that? I don't think so.

    There are a lot of other things I say about this, but I'm not in a very cohesive frame of mind right now and don't want to just ramble...
  • hubbellgardnerhubbellgardner Registered User Posts: 322 Member
    Hubbell's dad comments:

    I graduated from medical school 27 years ago and presently work as a medical school professor and have a son(hubbell) who will start medical school in the summer. The medical education process affects each student differently. Part of the experience in the clinical years is to learn when to use empathy and when to apply appropriate clinical detachment. There are times when you need to hold someones hand and there are times when you must be objectively detached. I work as a neurologist and I am frequently involved in brain death determinations in intensive care units. These are emotional consultations as the family is distraught, the atmosphere is intense and you are about to deliver horrific news about someone's loved one. Being able to cope with these situations, over and over, takes experience. I have met all kinds of physicians with all kinds of personalities and practicing medicine does not change your basic nature, the med student who wrote that article touched on some real things but he has not completed his education and has some more maturing to do. He can also go into a specialty that suits his personality-if you do not like the drama and angst present in surgery-there is pathology, dermatology etc.. This is often discovered as you experience the various clinical rotations. One of my close friends from med school started off in a surgical internship hoping to become a plastic surgeon. Three months into his internship he realized that the lifestyle did not suit him, today, he is a very successful radiologist-in medicine, for every pot(personality type) there is a lid(specialty)...
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