Thursday, July 24, 2008

Incompetence and Antipathy

I cannot claim to have had a particularly unique medical school experience. I'm sure like most other medical students, I have had my fair share of excellent residents as well as terrible ones. Luckily, the terrible ones have been a distinct minority. Yet, sometimes, as I come across these 'rough spots among diamonds,' I wonder how they came to be in their positions.

Not everyone who applies to medical school is accepted, and not everyone who applies to residency programs matches. Yet, these people have managed to jump both hurdles. If these people are allowed in, who exactly is being filtered out? What is it like in other professions? I thought medicine tried to hold its own to higher standards, yet sometimes I see some of the most callous behavior among physicians themselves.

To be clear, I should differentiate between the two types of behavior that pique my anger. The first is incompetence. A few physicians I have encountered are particularly lacking in skill, some to the degree that I fear they may actually one day do bodily harm to patients. I suppose I cannot make any specific claims to prove that feeling of mine, but I think the basic question to ask the colleagues of these individuals is, would you let them treat you or your family members? If the answer is no from an overwhelming majority of their peers, then one must seriously wonder why these doctors are allowed to treat patients from the general public.

The second type of behavior is antipathy. Doctors are sometimes harsh due to the serious nature of their work. However, the harshness should be focused on the process of taking care of patients. Yet, some residents and even attendings make it a habit of belittling people in a manner that is not productive and has nothing to do with practicing medicine. It saddens me that such rotten apples have the title that I aspire to. I do not believe they should be allowed to practice medicine.

This post was not triggered by any particular incident, but rather by my reminiscing about the past 1.5 years as I filled out my residency application. The process requires me to jump all these hurdles to demonstrate my true interest in the field, yet I wonder what value this all has when clearly the system is not good enough to keep the incompetent and/or rude physicians out of the field.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the second complaint, I don't really get why so many docs are mired in antipathy, either. I suspect that it's a combination of the following: such physicians were likely insulated from the general public (and their behavior, which is often not up to the standards of people who graduate at the top of their college classes and end up in med school) while growing up, and they're also disappointed in the actual job of a physician, which didn't meet their expectations. They didn't expect to encounter patients so resistant to change, etc. They have zero tolerance for this kind of thing.



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