* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"[John] might have been an effective member of the team if he had wanted to be there, but it was fairly clear he didn't. Among the medical students I have worked with, he was uniquely lazy, uniquely uninterested in learning anything about what we were doing, and uniquely unpleasant as far as both his attitude about the job and his general disposition. I recommend that [John] rethink his interest in internal medicine, or in working with patients in any capacity, and pursue a career in radiology or pathology."

I didn't actually write that evaluation, but I was tempted to. I just filled out a backlog of med student evaluations on the internal evaluation system. We're supposed to fill out an evaluation every time we work with anyone-- attending, resident, medical student-- but I know I've only gotten about 25% of the evaluations I could have possibly received throughout the year, so I expect that's pretty much the average compliance rate. I've tried to do better, but it's hard for filling out evaluations to move to the top of the to-do list especially when I know my evaluations don't really matter. I'd have to say something pretty extreme for it to affect someone more senior than me, and I'm not nearly senior enough to have any impact on what anyone thinks about the med students.

It's frustratingly hard to know how honest to be on these things. I don't want to lie, but I also know that everyone gets to read their evaluations, they're not anonymous, and I don't want to needlessly make enemies because I'm trying too hard to be accurate.

Some med students have been good, and some have been useless. Would the evaluation at the top of this post be fair? Maybe. But who am I to judge when often I'm just as bad-- I want to leave early, I don't want to be there, I hate half the patients. So I temper my criticism and end up writing boring evaluations and giving them perfectly adequate scores when they probably deserve less. Really, I hope that by grade-inflating, I'm sending some good karma into the world, so when I get a resident who hates me, they decide to give me a nice evaluation anyway.

"[John]'s base of knowledge was also questionable at times. He recommended we withdraw support to a patient on the road to recovery, and told one visitor that her daughter was in a coma when in fact she was merely asleep."


  1. Hello Anonymous Doc -

    Check out Robert Thornton’s book Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations (LIAR) - "It deals with...the age-old question of how to give a truthful recommendation (or back-handed compliment)."

    -“Her ability is deceiving” (She lies, cheats and steals)
    -“No salary would be too much for him.” (He is not worth anything)
    -“It was a pleasure working with her the short time I did.”  (Thankfully it was not longer)
    -“I assure you that no person would be better for the job.” (you’d be better off with a vacant seat than this guy)
    -“You’d be lucky to get this guy to work for you.” (Because all he wants to do is sit around and drink coffee)
    -“He’s a man of many convictions.” (He’s got a record a mile long).

    Or google "backhanded compliments list". Damn them with faux praise!

  2. Alas, med students like these grow up to be residents like the one who blew off night call.