The medical world is small, and like any small community it has its inherent problems. Piss someone important off and you can find doors closed in your face all over the world. Those born into the medical world often seem to have an advantage over the First Generations. Know the right people and you’ve got it made. The hierarchy separates juniors and seniors and allied professionals such that instead of learning from each other, we avoid and fear each other. A sense of unity is something I have missed dearly in this community, save for the few medical bloggers with whom I interact.
But yesterday I had a repeat of the Great Peads Sick of 2012, except that this time I am not even on a rotation. Who knows how I got it. My friend says South Africa is a jealous lover. So my good friend took me to the ER for rehydration and heavenly painkillers (I swear the bioavailability of oral Hyoscine must be zero) and when the doctor saw my Pharmacology flash cards and heard that I was in the process of exams at his Alma Mater, he proceeded to tutor me!
I thought that was really nice. The ER was pretty empty, and I had a long time to wait since the only IV they could get into my collapsed veins was a 24-gauge, but tutoring medical student-patients certainly is not part of his job description.
We spoke about the medical school, and consultants who went to school with him (one of whom was an examiner in my Internal Medicine OSCE last year). Despite his seniority (young, but a specialist), I felt part of the medical community for the first time in a while. I don’t know if it’s only in this part of the world, but it is difficult to feel like we belong in the medical world, and I think it is one of the difficult things of being a student. Probably also one of the things that worsens the mental health problems so prevalent among doctors. Remember how happy I was about the sense of community at my elective hospital last year?
Medical School would have been so much easier for me (and many others, I’m sure) if every medical professional saw it as part of their duty to mentor the medical students who come their way. I certainly see that as one of my future duties, whether or not I go into teaching and research. Mentoring is not just good for the student, but for the future: a sort of oral history of sorts, providing a richness to the profession that would otherwise go missing.
For a long time I have seen the medical community as selfish and complacent. Perhaps it does not have to be that way. I think it is the same as my post about university freshmen a while ago – we can either treat the juniors with disdain and insist they learn everything the hard way, or we can smooth their road and help them to stand on the shoulders of giants.