Tuesday, September 19, 2006

P=M.D. ::: Does that worry you?

Q: What do you call someone who graduated at the bottom of their med school class?
A: Doctor.

Source: unknown. Some other med blog.

So much pressure is relieved by my knowing that I'll be graded on most classes as a Pass/Fail. Already, us med students are helping each other so much more than I ever saw in pre-med. Stress to get a top grade is at a minimum, and I no longer find myself giving much care when I get the page on the syllabus that tells me how much each assignment is worth. If I choose to spend my time studying for my midterm rather than agonizing over the finer details of my patient interview report assignment, I don't have to worry that my report is going to get an 78% instead of an 89%. Both get me a P, and that's all that counts.

As much as I love the H (Honours)/P/P-/F system, the more I thought about it, the more I honestly started getting nervous for my future patients and readers of this blog: how does the general public perceive a physician who could likely have gotten their medical diploma because they achieved the bare minimum (60% in most classes)? Should I really be gloating about that on my blog? "Hey, everyone, I only have to get a 60%! Guess what I'm aiming for!" This might be one of those posts that's more for myself than anyone reading, but hey, this is as much a journal of my education for myself as it is meant to be entertaining reading for you. So welcome to my thought process.

First of all, as Alice put it commenting on my last post, I still have the class rank to worry about. I won't be shooting for a 60% because I'd rather not end up at the 8th percentile. That's where the people who got in off the waitlist belong... and I must clearly be better than them. (Just kidding!! We don't judge each other that way! Besides, nobody who got in off the waitlist broadcasts that fact... I only know 1 person in my class who has confided that information in me). Besides, this is a really bright group. I'm pretty sure I will have enough trouble staying above the 50th percentile.

But secondly, since I've started thinking about the whole P/F system, two things have crossed my mind that make me less worried. Today we had a small group session where we learned how to take blood pressure and what a pulse is (yeah, pretty basic stuff, but they gotta teach it to us!) and one comment by the doctor teaching us really stood out. He was telling us about a patient he treated on a plane. He asked this patient a standard family history question: "Does this run in the family?" and the answer that the patient's wife gave him ("Yeah, for some reason our doctor wanted to talk to all his brothers!") immediately triggered in the doctor's mind what the disease was. The doctor's point for us: "If there's something important you need to know, trust me, it will get hammered into your head in medical school."

The other thing was this: Even if I try to cruise through school not knowing anything, there's still boards. I have to pass an exam when I graduate before I can practice. Anything I learn for good now is one less thing I have to cram for come boards.

Okay, now I'm not so worried about telling people about my P/F system and having them think I'm trying to cruise through my M.D. Cuz I don't think that anybody really can "cruise through" med school, and I hope it stays that way. I don't want an incompetent doctor, either!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't fret so much. You've hit the nail on the head re: the benefits of the Pass/Fail grading with the following:

"Already, us med students are helping each other so much more than I ever saw in pre-med."

That's the most important thing because when you get to clinical years, guess who you will be relying on to help you through? You'll be glad that the non-competitive environment was created so early in your career.

And let's face it, a 60% average in non-clinical years will still set you up to be a very competent physician-in-training during your clinical years.

Work hard now, really learn what they teach you in these first two years, do your best and, when you do get to your clinical years, treat your patients with care and respect. Then you'll be a physician that I will trust with my loved ones.