Rebirth of the Blog

So...I started this blog back in July thinking that I would have time to sit here and spill my thoughts to the world while in medical school. You see, the problem is that I'm really not having thoughts that would be interesting to anyone and it is frustrating. I wish that I had cool stories of how I was being abused in school or of patients I've seen but there's just nothing. And blogs about nothing are frankly pretty boring. But I've hit an all new level of needing to vent. Therefore, I digress...back to the ranting

Medical school blows hard. There's no other way to put it. Sure on the surface it looks like it could be fun: Avoid getting a job by hanging out in college for another 4 years, and come out on the other side with a guaranteed six figure paycheck. Mom and Dad are happy, friends are impressed, women are flocking (NOT). But underneath the glossy patina of "Grey's Anatomy" and "ER" and any conception that I previously had of medical training, lies the truth: Medical training is nothing more than an indoctrination into the dysfunctional world of being a physician.

Medical education is currently run on a system that was developed in the 1890's and that has worked fine since then...why fix what ain't broke, eh? We sit in didactic lecture after didactic lecture and learn "basic science" for the first two years of school, and then in the second two years we learn the art of diagnosis by the Socratic method. If that weren't enough we then get to enter residency, where we have the pleasure of making $8-10/hr for 3-7 years...after 8 years of post-secondary education. Residents at John's Hopkins back at the conception of residency who were young and single, essentially lived at the hospital (ie hotel for sick people) and worked at the slow pace of medicine back in the day. Fast foward to 2007 where physicians are forced to see 30+ patients per day to keep their practices afloat and you've got a VERY different story.

Still not convinced that it sucks? Ok, consider the growth of biomedical research/knowledge since the 1950's for instance. It has been EXPONENTIAL. Yet the medical education system has not really been reformed since then. Think about it, DNA was determined to be genetic material in the 40's, DNA's structure was solved in 1953...now extrapolate the exponential growth of knowledge to the point that we have today in 2007. It is phenomenal to think about the amount of shit that I have to keep in my head just to get through the day of lecture. I've heard stories of basic science professors apologizing to their students for the level of detail that we now have to learn. In what other profession do you have to deal with that???

So combine the scholastic rigors of dragging your arse through knee deep science, with the isolation from family, friends and the outside world that has to be endured on top of it. I have honestly never felt as alone as I do right now. I'm surrounded by classmates who understand exactly what is going on, but no one else. I see the same 200 people day in and out, we have the same conversations, we eat at the same places, do the same things...I feel like I'm Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day. Sure, the lecture topics change, the weather changes, the date on my Treo changes, but not my routine. Class from 9-12, Lab/Clinic/more class in the afternoon, study at night for a few hours, sleep.

And that's where the indoctrination comes into play. You see medical school is regulated by a bunch of crusty old physicians that seem to think that the demands placed upon them in their training should be placed upon new generations of physicians. They had their entire life analyzed just to be accepted to medical school, and so should we. They jumped through flaming hoops of bullshit classes, so shall we. They suffered through 2 years of Pre-clinical science, so will we. They suffered through living at the hospital and paying to working more that 80 hours a week in the post clinical years, so will we. They were paid $40k/year for their residency training, and so will we. Only difference is that we'll pay about 10x what they did to get the same degree thanks to educational inflation.

At some point there is going to be a massive exodus of quality of applicants to medical school in favor of fields with much less bull-shit to deal with. I think there needs to be a serious re-structuring of the medical education system if we are going to continue to draw a high caliber of students to our arena but more on that at a later date.

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