Ask the Half M. D.: Why are medical students such assholes?

April 29, 2009 at 11:20 am (Ask the Half MD)

A reader asks, “Why are medical students such assholes? The same people are in charge of EVERYTING. It seems like they’re all licking each other’s asses.”

At my own university, we have about 20 students in my class who run every organization from student government to most of the interest groups to even the choir. These people got elected into positions of power as freshmen while most people were trying to study and then spent the next four years appointing each other to positions so they could pad their resumes in attempts to land an elusive residency spot. Watching them work is like visiting the zoo and watching the monkeys pick nits out of each other’s hair. At the end of each year, they hold self-congratulatory parties in which they circle jerk to let the rest of the student body know how awesome they are for organizing the spring formal and judiciously dispensing student government funds to the registered groups on campus.

While I have no problem with someone wanting to become involved with extracurricular activities on campus, there is certainly a line that people cross when they join organizations for the sake of holding leadership positions. I’m the president of one of my campus’ interest groups. I have a vice president who has never been to a meeting, a secretary who has not returned an e-mail since last July, and a treasurer who has no idea how much money is in our budget. In a sense, I’ve had to run every officer position in the club over the past year and frankly, I’m quite annoyed that other students would run for positions without any intention of following through on their leadership responsibilities.

The other line people cross is mistaking leadership for dictatorship. I know quite a few people who believe that barking orders to others is the only necessary component to leadership. Our last class president was completely ineffective at his job and needed the secretary to plan and organize every event from social functions to the teacher of the year award. He would then gladly take credit for all of the effort put forth by others. While I would like to claim that he is an idiot, his move was actually very smart. If a residency committee were to acknowledge the accomplishments of our student government, he would automatically gain credit simply from his position.

There really is no other way around the situation. You can try to ignore it during your four years in medical school. Some people just need to be in charge and there is nothing you can do to stop them, unless you plan on running against them in the next election.

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11 Comments

  1. Robert said,

    bitterness + arrogance = assholism

    arguably, it is a survival instinct, or isn’t it?

  2. Miami_med said,

    It’s sort of like the people in regular politics.

    Best of luck man

  3. Tim said,

    Man this is awesome. I so feel you. I start medical school this August, but it’s really the same way in undergrad and pretty much everywhere. Sickening, really.

  4. Chris said,

    Nice. I like your style.

  5. TJ said,

    Lead, follow or get out of the way. As it is, as it was and as it always will be.

  6. LaLa said,

    I thought perhaps I was alone in this! I have been president of a student organization all year with a “co-president” and a “vice-president,” neither of whom have done a damn thing. Now that the year’s nearly over the “co-president” is kissing our advisor’s ass and running his trap like he’s been doing it all. It’s been obnoxious enough that I won’t have anything to do with the damn club for the rest of my education, and I refuse to take on any more leadership positions! It’s a joke! And I would not be surprised if, in fact, they do get together for circle jerks – perhaps after their fantastic spring fling!

  7. sonia elaine said,

    Dear Half Md

    Recently I learnt that GPA scale is not always on scale of 4 but also on the 100 scale. The college Board web site even has a template for conversion from 1 scale to the next.

    I would also like to respond to comment about leaving from high school to med school in other countries. I would like to clarify that these are students who graduate high school with A in chemistry, physics, biology and math after 4 years of doing same. These students with such grades would return to high school for another 2 years and study in those same subjects at the advance level , and are usually expected to pass each subjects with an A, not a B before being accepted into medical school. The great thing is that you get two years of college in high school and what a great saving. This to me is way harder a process to get into medical school for those who may think otherwise. Just to add to the disgruntled writer about people who take on positions to pad their resume, i would just like to say it is an issue of integrity.

  8. Caroline said,

    Things like this make me happy I went to nursing school. Sure we won’t get paid as much, but we’re not paying as much either. We learn the fundamentals of medicine, and we get to spend more than 8 minutes with each patient. Yeah we don’t prescribe medications, but we know what every one of them does, why it’s prescribed, and we see the effects (negative and positive) before our eyes. The life lessons you learn holding the hand of a dying client are more readily available than those from signing the death certificate after the body is cold and in the basement. The work is grueling, but there is still time to go for a walk and raise your children. There are tons of jobs available, and the opportunities to excel are plentiful. For example, my path is as follows-> RN, BSN, MSN, CRNA. CRNA= nurse anesthetist. A new graduate CRNA starts out at around 130,000/year. With years of experience and becoming an independent practitioner- a CRNA can make from 190,000-400,000 dollars a year. If all goes as planned, I will be a CRNA when I am 23. I admire doctors and am grateful for their guidance- but as for me and my life, I’ll stick with advance practice nursing.

  9. Marie said,

    @caroline: Why are all nurses obese and mean?

  10. Johnny said,

    It sickens me that nurse practioners make as much as some anesthesiologists. Thank You AMA, you excuse of an organization for doctor’s interests.

  11. american said,

    Premeds are douchebags who grow up to be Douchebag, MD

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