“You all are so _________, after all, you got into medical school.”
You can fill in the blank with any combination of: hard-working, dedicated, smart, compassionate, well rounded.
I’ve heard that sentence countless times from my lecturers since starting medical school and I’ve decided I don’t like it. These statements make me feel uncomfortable because they put me on a pedestal I’m quite sure I don’t deserve.
These statements suggest to me that the accomplishment of medical school is all due to my own efforts and skills and hard work. It’s not. I mean, sure, I was the one who studied and wrote the exams and did the interview. But that is just a sliver of what got me here.
In no particular order of importance:
- I got involved with the Red Cross in high school (in part) because of a girl I liked
- Ended up co-founding a global issues club in high school
- Club probably got me the scholarship for university
- Scholarship allowed me to travel and volunteer to my hearts content during my undergrad
- All of the above, and all of the proceeding took place while living in a safe home where everything was provided.
- Got good grades in high school and undergrad because I happened to have the type of intelligence and learning style that the educational system caters to.
- Had a personable disposition that I’m sure opened many doors for me
- A strong community to support me
- Most importantly, my parents bringing us to Canada and settling in BC. Allowing me to get my Canadian citizenship and apply to UBC medical school under the higher probability “in province” category. (UBC, like many med schools in Canada, accepts more in province students than out of province students, and does not accept applications from people without at least a permanent resident status in Canada).
This is just a tiny sampling of the many chance events that occurred in my life. Most of what got me into medical school was accidental and/or out of my control. Hell, if I’d had a crush on a different girl I might be an accountant right now—who knows.
The point is I didn’t do this alone. Instead of being reminded to appreciate thank the people who got me here, I’m repeatedly given all of the credit.
Out of curiously, I quickly asked two of my friends who are in nursing programs (one here in Vancouver, and the other in California) the following question:
In your nursing school, do they compliment you all the time? Like “Oh you’re so smart/hardworking/well-rounded, you got into nursing school”?
From our professors? Hell no. If we’re really down they may say keep your head up, you’re going to make it, you’re here because you have what it takes to make it blah blah blah, but nothin more than that. Why?
-They tell us that in med school at least weekly. Wanted to compare.
Haha, so that’s how you guys get the God complex.
WHAT? Um, absolutely not. Pretty sure I’ve never heard anything like that. Why?
-I hear it at least weekly in med school; wanted to see if it was common.
That’s ridiculous, no wonder you people have such a God complex.
So we have two separate conversations, two student nurses in completely different systems, with remarkably similar responses. It’s far from scientific, but it is very interesting.
I’m not saying med students don’t work hard, I’m just saying that they don’t necessarily work harder than any number of people in any number of fields. I’m saying that anyone who gets anywhere does so with incredible support. Med students are not some “different”, “special”, or magical breed of students.
It is nice that the lecturers compliment us and make us feel good. But it is easy to let that get to your head. And when doctors have big egos, things get dangerous.