For God’s Sake, Don’t Be a Tool

Is This Person a Tool?

1. Asks questions during lecture, especially near the end when everybody else just wants to get a break.

Folks, lectures are mostly a passive affair more often than not delivered straight from the Power-point slides. This is why most lectures are sparesly attended. In the old days we relied on a note-taking service. Nowadays the professor usually posts his slides and notes on line making it virtually uneccessary to actually attend the lectures.

Still, many of us are old school and feel cheated if we don’t sit in a lecture hall most of the time. We certainly don’t want to hear you’re idiotic questions the answers to which you could easily look up on your own except you think you are scoring points with the professor.

2. Claims to never study.

Everybody studies in medical school. Sorry. In fact, many people are rudely awakened with failing grades on the first exams of first year when they try to apply their undergraduate studying paradigm (just cramming before tests) to medical school. You will soon see that the people at the top of the class are always in the library, the student lounge, Barnes and Nobles, or somewhere studying all the time.

3. Takes student government seriously.

There is nothing wrong with running for class office. It looks good on your resume, gives you as little bit more insight into medical school policies than you would otherwise have, and allows you to implement minor but none-the-less appreciated changes.

Our student government upgraded our school’s weight room which was great.

On the other hand you are not going to change anything big, at least not without a lot more support than you are going to get from your class who care less and less about school policy the closer they get to graduation.

When we were first years with an enternity of medical school ahead of us we could get all irate and self-righteous about some of the school’s policies with which we disagreed. By the middle of third year we didn’t care not the least of which because the policies now made much more sense.

And we laughed at the pretensions of the first years even though we knew we were just like them in our time.

4. Is an insufferable zealot.

Come on. Admit it. Many of you have never met a real conservative or anybody, for that matter, with religious, political, or a moral point of view that differed substantially from yours. No harm done. Although a majority of physicians are either conservatives or Republicans, academia is almost exclusivley liberal and Democratic.

Therefore it is not unsual to go through four years of undergrad and even four years of medical school living in something of a bubble. With this in mind don’t get all sullen and indignant with your collegues who have a different point of view than yours.

Here is a list of a few things which do not disqualify someone from being a physician: Serving in the military, supporting the troops and our current war, being pro-life, being against affirmative action, for the death penalty, voting Republican, being a devout and observant Christian, telling a few off-color, homophobic, misogynistic, or ethnic jokes here or there, being against socialized medicine and being for market capitalism.

Not to mention expecting to make a decent living as a doctor with only a marginal interest in serving the underserved.

Like being pro-choice or voting Democratic, all of these things are well within the mainstream of American culture and there is no need for you to act sanctimonious or have a hissy fit if some of our views differ from the liberal orthodoxy which is the de facto religion of academia. I have observed this on many occasions and marveled at the the sheer bad manners of anyone who will make contemptous remarks about religion or politics to a room full of strangers.

5. Is Hypersensitive.

Sometimes you are going to get criticised. Sometimes you are going to be the object of a little good-natured and usually well-deserved ribbing. Heck, sometimes you will be the target of cutting insults which are not good-natured.

This is medical school and residency. Grow a thick skin. Everyone is over-worked, tired most of the time, and pissed off at one thing or another. It just goes with the territory. People will not have time to spare your feelings or coddle your fragile ego. If you let every little slight get under your skin you will be desperately unhappy for the next seven to ten years depending on the specialty you choose.

Conversely, be unflappable and polite with everyone from the janitor to the chief of staff. Never get mad. Never insult anyone. Never show your frustration. Just smile and ask what you can do to solve the problem.