Oh, medical students. Feels like just yesterday I was one of those chipper, eager-to-learn little students dressed up in my short white coat with a Maxwell’s in my pocket and stethoscope around my neck. The best rotations were with residents who:
a. Were enthusiastic about their job
b. Made your experience hands-on
c. Made an effort to teach
The worst rotations were with the residents who saw medical students as nuisances and spoke to them only to assign us non-educational busywork to do, a term known as “scut work”. For me, the most dehumanizing part was that these were usually the same residents who couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge our existence or learn our names. As I looked towards graduation, I swore I’d be the former type of resident.
In all honesty, to be that type of resident has been a challenge. As an intern, I am constantly working to get one of a thousand things crossed off my to-do list. The most basic of actions – stopping to say hello, introducing myself – requires effort. As the year goes by, and I get more comfortable and efficient with my work, I am becoming more able to be that resident I aspire to be. I try to teach. Engage in benign pimping. Review suturing, knot tying. But this is constantly a work-in-progress.
One thing I've noticed is that my ability to be the "good resident" is equally proportional to having a "good medical student". The proactive, eager medical students are by far the easiest to teach. L.W. was a perky, well-learned sub-intern on my Oncology rotation. She anticipated what needed to be done throughout the day and did it. She made my life easier. She had done her reading. As a result, I loved teaching her. The passive, uninterested medical student brings the "bad resident" out of me. Fast forward to our next Oncology sub-intern who clearly had not studied basic oncology, who hangs out in the background and waits to be told what to do, who showed up late. I am finding it much harder to be enthusiastic about taking time to teach her. Instead, she gets a lot of scut work in return...