* * Anonymous Doc: Well, at least I don't torture them

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Well, at least I don't torture them

I said to one of the residents from another team this afternoon -- "Hey, I passed one of your med students crying in the stairwell. Everything OK?"

"Yeah, whatever, she's ridiculous."

"What do you mean?"

"She's just crying because she thinks she killed someone."


"You know, I tell the med students one of the patients is going to die in an hour if we don't figure out what's wrong, and then I see what they come up with. It's a teaching tool. You don't do that?"

"No, I have them shadow the team until they have some idea what's going on, and then I give them each a patient to follow, and include them in the discussion about the treatment plan."

"And what do they learn from that?"

"They learn what we do. And if there's time, I give them some reading about something one of our patients has, and we talk through it."

"Your med students are walking on easy street. I feel like it's much more fun to throw them into the fire. Test their skills. See what they can handle."

"They're not supposed to be able to handle anything yet, they're third-year med students."

"Oh, come on, they should know what it's really like. Making decisions on the fly, feeling responsible for life or death, last week I told them one guy was bleeding out, made them hold pressure on a wound that wasn't even there, told them if they let go, he's gonna die. Patient was basically dead anyway, didn't even matter."

"Why would you waste their time?"

"I'm not wasting their time. I'm preparing them."

"I would have hated to be your med student."

"Of course you would have. I have them running around right now looking for test results that don't exist. I want them to see how to navigate the chain of command, figure out all the different ways scans can get lost, blood can go missing, all the places you need to check before you declare something isn't going to turn up."

"So you're sending them on a wild goose chase for information that can't be found."

"Exactly. And it gets them out of my hair for half the afternoon. What are yours doing?"

"Patient history."

"Which you need?"

"No, but it's good practice for them."

"It's stupid, easy practice for them. I bet the patient even speaks English."

"Uh, yeah..."

"No, you give the students the ones who don't, and don't tell them about the translator phone. Then you see what they're made of. They need to learn communication skills."

"I'm gonna go back to, uh... something. I'll catch you later. You should get the one that's in the stairwell, tell her she didn't kill anyone."

"I'll give it a few more minutes. Want to see if she quits or something. Weed them out."


  1. Please tell me you're joking!

  2. I think I've worked with that guy :P

    Medicine, more than any other field, is the best profession to unearth latent personality disorders.

  3. I love this ... have shared it with so many people and can't stop laughing. If you don't have a sense of humor, you don't belong in direct patient care.

  4. As a first year med student, this makes me even more terrified for the beginning of 3rd year!

  5. Diagnosis: psychopathy.

    Or, more likely, it's a made-up story. A medical student is not going to be aware that there is no bleeding wound where they are holding pressure? Or they won't notice that the patient supposedly on the verge of death doesn't actually die when they get the question wrong? Please.

  6. It's not torture. It helps them grow thick skin.

    Not the most terrible thing in the world. Sometimes busy work is not the best thing either.