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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Why your apartment is still on the market

April 22, 2009 at 11:19 am (Uncategorized)

Given that I’m about to move in a month, I started looking for apartments in my new home city. One of the difficulties of moving to an area that I’m not familiar with is trying to find a new place to live using only the descriptions that I find on Craigslist. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by the description is that people give of their apartments. As a public service to my readers, if any of you own property and are looking for new tenants, here are some pointers:

1. Include a picture. I know this sounds like a no brainer to most people, but having a picture of the facility is a good way to get perspective tenants to read your ad. If all I see is an outside shot taken from the street, I assume that there’s nothing on the inside worth looking at. And if all I see are bars on the windows, I don’t want to keep my stuff inside. I certainly don’t feel like getting robbed at 4:00 AM when I’m going to the hospital.

2. Give a description. Now that we’ve got the picture out of the way, I then want to know more about the apartment. Is the neighborhood quiet? How close are the neighbors? Are they quiet? Were the previous tenants smokers? Did the previous tenants own pets? Is this apartment pet-friendly? What is the crime rate in this neighborhood? When will the apartment become available? If the only thing that you can tell me is that this is a “hipster” pad, then I’ll assume that you’re an idiot.

3. List the amenities. Is there a washer/dryer included in the unit? Is there dedicated parking? Is there a pool? “Interesting kitchen cabinetry” is not an amenity if I can’t cook my food and later wash my dishes.

4. What is the true cost? I expect you to tell me what the monthly rent will be, as well as the expected utilities, deposit, and additional costs such as parking. Don’t try to sell me on an $800 apartment and then have additional stipulations in the contract such as homeowner association fees.

5. Give the correct number of bedrooms. I’m astounded by the number of people who list the den as a second bedroom, particularly when this second room does not have a closet and access to it requires walking through the first bedroom.

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Counting down the days

April 16, 2009 at 11:24 am (Uncategorized)

Posting from the road:
Fourth year is about to end.
Only one month to go.

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Guest post on

April 5, 2009 at 2:23 pm (Uncategorized)

I wrote a gust post recently for KevinMD about the Scramble.

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Students storm surgery department, kill two professors

April 1, 2009 at 4:00 am (Uncategorized)

New York, NY—at 7:00 a.m. this morning 8 third-year medical students stormed the surgery department at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, killing two attendings and taking six more as hostages. Drs. Whittaker and Montgomery were executed by the disgruntled students who claim that they are seeking change. The names of the six hostages have not been released by police.

After a six-hour standoff, the group’s leader, Martin Rove, has agreed to speak with reporters. He stated that the hostages were being treated well and are currently eating, something that students aren’t allowed to do during their surgery clerkship. He also listed the group’s demands. “We want more teaching, less yelling, and no more black weekends.” A black weekend is where a student must come into the hospital both Saturday and Sunday, thereby ensuring his presence at work for 12 consecutive days. He has been the only identified hostage taker so far. The rest of the students have been covering their faces with surgical caps to prevent identification.

“John” is one of the third-year medical students involved in the siege. He asked that his real name not be given because he has not received permission to speak to the press. He paints a starker imaged than Martin. “The professors have been standing for hours at a time and are not allowed to go to the bathroom. We’ve been asking them embarrassing questions about relationships, sexuality, and if they think they will ever be granted tenure in the hopes that they will see how humiliating it can be in the OR.” John also went on to mention that some members of the group have been throwing surgical instruments on the floor and playing Cher at loud volume to simulate the sounds of an operating room.

Police hope to have the issue resolved shortly, but admitted that no one will miss these medical students or their professors should any of them be killed. Mr. Rove mentioned by phone that Dr. Whitaker was chosen for execution because, “He is simply the most unpopular teacher we’ve ever had.” Dr. Montgomery’s death was an accident and regrettable, says the group’s leader. “He was an 85-year-old dinosaur who merely could not take the stress of running upstairs and being corralled into a tiny office that was shared by others.”

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