As a profession, we do a terrible job of leading by example. Look outside any hospital and you see doctors and nurses, in their white coats and scrubs, smoking a cigarette or grabbing a hot dog off a street vendor. We have a discounted gym membership that the gym doesn't even know about because virtually no one has ever signed up to use it. We preach healthy eating and then there's not a place inside the hospital where you can get something that's not either deep-fried or out of a vending machine. We're not allowed to use our daily cafeteria stipend on bottled water, which is the only not-unhealthy thing in there.
The chief resident stepped outside at one point to have a cigarette. Sure, he acknowledged the absurdity of it-- made a joke about how it's the stress of the job, and he knows he should quit, but-- it's not even so much about the hypocrisy of telling our patients one thing and doing another, but merely having gone through med school and seeing actual lungs, and seeing patients in there years before they needed to be, because of choices they made in their lives and how they treated their bodies. If that's not making an impact on someone, then I don't know what they were paying attention to throughout medical school, and I'm not sure I want them as my doctor, honestly.
I'm still hoping to identify the couple of people I think I could really become friends with in this program, the ones I'm going to be able to commiserate with as the hours grow long and we've been standing in people's bodily fluids for hours. Oddly enough, part of why I wanted to be a doctor is the camaraderie I hoped for-- you're part of this exclusive club, you're in the trenches with these other people, fighting for something real. Lawyers don't get that-- they're in offices all day, alone, fighting for some vaguely-defensible client or corporation. You work for a business and it's much the same, you're just in an office, alone, doing your work. But as a doctor, you're supposedly helping people, and you get the adrenaline rush when there's an emergency and you can really, tangibly save someone. It's like team sports, in a way-- everyone's energy focused on the same thing. But even if that's how it looks on TV, it's not how I've seen it so far in reality. Everyone has his own agenda, everyone has his own pride, no one's really working together so much as working in their own bubbles and passing a chart back and forth. And too many people are drawn to medicine by the lure of the paycheck or the power-- not that my motives are any more pure, but still-- that in large part it's a bunch of pompous blowhards walking around thinking they can do no wrong.
I was talking to one of the other incoming residents and happened to ask him why he wanted to be a doctor-- he said he wanted to be a doctor so he could know people's secrets. I thought that was a particularly creepy motivation.
Off to learn how to fill out a W-4 form-- it's bizarre that on the one hand, they assume we're competent and smart enough people to be caring for the health of patients, but on the other hand they don't trust that we can figure out how to fill out a tax form without two hours of an incompetent administrator walking us through it step by step. We have a medical degree, for goodness sake-- we can fill out a W-4 on our own, we can figure out the online pharmaceutical ordering system, we can do a lot of things without being forced to sit through training sessions.