In the New York Times, Pauline Chen reports that Vanderbilt University is making an effort to relieve the stress of medical school with games and crafts. I read the piece with mixed feelings. It’s great that the school recognizes the problems faced by med students and is trying to help. And what Vanderbilt is doing seems more appropriate than importing puppies as some law schools have done.
I was struck by this sentence in the article, “[T]here is something toxic about the medical education process.” It amazes me that we still teach medical students the same way we did when I was in school some 40+ years ago. Memorize a lot of material that a) is available in electronic media that you can carry with you and b) is useless to the everyday physician [e.g., the Krebs cycle].
Oh, and don’t teach synthesis of ideas or decision-making. While you’re at it, smother the students and even residents with supervision so they never have an opportunity to make an independent decision anyway.
Then I thought, what’s up with the medical students? You’d think by now they might have heard that medical school was difficult and occasionally stressful.
I’ve got bad news for medical students. Hodie peius [Latin: This day worse] Medical school and residency training are not even remotely as stressful as actually practicing medicine. Wait until you are the one responsible for all the decisions you make, some of which will be wrong and result in complications or deaths.
Do these people, who are at least 22 years old, really need the school to generate extra-curricular activities for them? What are they going to do when they start practicing medicine for real? According to amednews.com, a recent survey revealed that 87% of doctors “said they feel moderately or severely stressed or burned out” EVERY DAY.
Who is going to arrange their cooking competitions and variety shows then?