You know, being a Public Health graduate, I have had plenty of time to study with pre-med students and contemplate whether being a doctor is the right path for me. I concluded a long time ago, that treating warts and bunions on middle-aged men’s feet was just not for me.
However, I have immense respect for doctors. Mainly because they have to treat bunions and warts on middle-aged people’s feet.
However, I found that there is an inherent flaw to the recruitment of doctors and I am reminded of it as my sister is neurotically trying to finish her medical school applications and competing for interviews with people who have rafted down the Amazon River or spent years working for medical consulting firms.
The paradox is this.
(A) The Hippocratic Oath
The Hippocratic Oath is a vow that physicians take to promise that they will do their utmost to take the best course of action for their patients. Therefore, a doctor is a surrogate parent of sorts.
(B) Technical Skills
There are few things harder than being a doctor. This is because being a doctor takes precise, correct, well-tested, time-sensitive, case-by-case and sometimes innovative approaches to care.
(C) Pre-Med Student Selection
Because these technical skills are so important to becoming a good doctor, you look for students that can retain large amounts of information, take quick decision after long hours of work and are particularly compassionate and driven to see the patient get better. Some students distinguish themselves by working hard, volunteering in local shelters and having good social skills. Other students retain their competitive edge by being unwilling to cooperate with fellow students, ripping articles from academic journals used for school work and convincing other students that they are not driven/smart/connected enough to be in this field.
Which brings me to the following equation.
A + B + C ≠ Good Doctor
Hyppocritic Oath + Technical Skills + Student Selection doesn’t necessarily equal being a Good Doctor.