All Posts · Emotional Baggage · Personal Opinions

What Happened to Consideration?

I was having in interesting conversation with K the other day. We were talking about some aspects of my clerkship. Here are a few pertinent excerpts:

I really shouldn’t complain because I know that it’s my turn to be at the bottom. I think what was really the most irritating was feeling like there was a lack of consideration. I try hard to be considerate, so I sometimes get frustrated when other people are inconsiderate.

I, too, was (as a clerk and resident) greatly frustrated by other people being lazy and stupid. But as you will learn – you cannot control others. You can only be responsible for yourself – and you will be perceived far better if you just take note of others stupidity/laziness and then march forward with your duties.

This conversation started because I complained about some annoying and somewhat idiotic things that happened on one of my call shifts. I then felt bad for complaining to her about things because, after all, she is still an attending physician. She certainly made me feel better about things and she was really okay with me complaining to her about it. However, I left the conversation still feeling a little unsure of why I was bothered so much but the situation I was in.

Then last night I got a huge text message from one of my friends and classmates complaining about an experience on her rotation when she tried to leave early because her daycare called and said her daughter was sick. Here’s a small part of that conversation:

Why can’t people be reasonable? This is the problem with being a clerk: you’re just a work horse and not an actual team member. I am so so so so so so over all of clerkship. I’m over being a mature student. I’m over it all. It’s just so dumb and absurd and ridiculous that people think its okay to treat people like crap. Grrrr. I think all I’m learning is how badly I don’t want to be an asshole attending. That lesson comes through loud and clear every single day.

After this conversation, it occurred to me that I completely and 100% identify with what she is feeling. Maybe if I wasn’t a “mature student” (i.e: older than most of the people in my position) I could handle being treated like shit more often. Maybe it would be more acceptable at age 23 instead of age 30 (actually 29, because I’m not having a birthday this year), to be talked to rudely, or asked to do scut work, or having your time wasted… I don’t know.

I am a huge believer that this whole world would be a better place if everyone just tried a little harder to be considerate and treat people with respect. I don’t really understand why there is this deeply ingrained aspect in medical education that you have to treat the people below you with a certain level of arrogance and disrespect… As if it somehow teaches us better. All it does is teach us to treat other people that way. Interestingly,there is a huge movement for doctors to be more professional, treat patients better, and have better bedside manner. However, it is still acceptable to treat learners with disrespect and plain out meanness. When a medical student wants to find a corner and cry because of something someone said or did to them, maybe the whole mechanism of medical education needs to be revisited.

Clearly, any kind of change that might happen won’t happen in my time, so I better just develop thicker skin. In the meantime, I can just figure out how I can be part of the solution as I move forward in the system.

9 thoughts on “What Happened to Consideration?

  1. Personally I haven’t yet felt disrespected or that anyone was overly rude to me, but then again – I haven’t started my rotations yet. I hope it’s not too bad!

    I agree though. There’s no need for disrespect, no matter what your place in the hospital food chain.

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    1. I think most of the difficult times are ahead. People do weird things when they are over worked, overtired, and in a position of authority! Good luck!

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  2. Well, you’re preaching to the choir with me, Cranky. I don’t know why so many doctors think it’s acceptable to behave that way. I have no problem talking back to doctors who give me attitude, but a lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing that. And why should they HAVE to? And why should other doctors or nurses feel compelled to take what they dish out? What’s wrong with simple respect? You’re on on the same team—theoretically.

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    1. I really do think it’s sad that education and experience becomes this marker for a certain level of status and arrogance. Not all doctors are mean and disrespectful, in fact, I think most of them aren’t. However, it only takes a few of them to give a bad reputation to everyone.

      We are all on the same team, really… Doctors write the orders, but without everyone else in the hospital, patients wouldn’t survive!

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  3. I think this is one of those vicious cycles. One person gets stressed out/irritated/upset, and since the job is stressful and the outlets are often limited, these emotions build up and spill out into the workplace as hostility or rudeness. Person #1 encounters and is inconsiderate to Person #2 (who might even be in the same boat as #1 emotionally), therefore increasing #2’s angst and not solving any of his/her own. This could turn into a chain reaction, and before you know it, the whole unit is downright grouchy.

    Sadly, the entire medical system is just not conducive to warm and fuzzy feelings. The fact that a lot of doctors are tougher, gunner-types (i.e., emotional nitwits) doesn’t help, either. I think developing some “thicker skin” would help you deflect the crabbiness of others, but I also think it would help you remember that their shockingly rude behavior might just be manifestations of a lot of inner turmoil. It certainly doesn’t excuse their behavior, but maybe you’ll be the compassionate individual they’ve been (desperately) needing to find.

    (Though I must offer a caveat: I might be talking out of my tuchus — as a natural pessimist, I can be amazingly impractical when it comes to idealism.)

    Oh, and I’ve also heard it’s a lot harder for “non-traditional” students who start medical school later, especially having other, established lives/careers, because of the reasons you mentioned here. You’re used to be treating like a bona fide adult, but now that you’re in the mix with a bunch of people (underlings) right out of undergrad, the respect levels have changed. 😦

    At any rate, *hug*

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    1. Thanks, Allie! LIke one of my classmates said today, being at the bottom of the hill sucks. There is no way around it, you just have to go up. Emotional ntiwit, non-traditional student, gunner personality, and all!

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  4. Medicine has a long history of a ridiculous hierarchy, where some of those at the top feel obliged to be rude to the newcomers. I have no idea how to change that. I would never have had the courage to stand up to those doctors back when I was young, but if we all had done that, maybe the cycle would have been broken. Good luck..

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    1. Thanks! It is a challenge every day. I like to try and just buck up and let the cycle end at me. It’s not always easy, bu then again, nothing worth anything is easy, right?

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