Powerfully built and with the face of a boxer, he cast a bone-chilling shadow wherever he went in the hospital.
At least that is what my medical school classmates and I thought whenever we passed by a certain resident, or doctor-in-training, just a few years older than we were.
This is an unspoken truth of medical school. While there are great teachers and role models everywhere, there are too few of them to shift the entrenched culture of medical education on their own.
Even as the expectations mounted leading up to third year, there was a growing sense of urgency for me to meet the challenge. Certainly, growing thick skin is part of learning. Mistakes happen and accepting them and learning from them is a part of the process. Having said that, there are limits.
And those limits can be crossed.
I have heard my fair share of third year horror stories over the last two years involving verbal and physical abuses. While I have no doubt that the staff and team I will be working with are excellent teachers, I am cautiously aware that I might hear and see more in the coming year. From berating to ‘sterile slaps,’ the culture of teaching is a vicious cycle, where the good in people is eroded away. If we are to continue like this in this modern age, what legacy will we leave for a new generation of doctors?
Perhaps as much as we focus on changing the paternalism of medicine to become more patient-centred, maybe it is time for us to work towards a better environment for healthy learning.
Discuss your thoughts below.