Before starting medical school, I worked many jobs. If something wasn’t going right on the job, not one time did I ever fake that everything was OK. Once I got to medical school, I started to pick up on many students coming to me in private expressing distaste in something that was going on in class or on rotations. These were the same people who I thought were loving every last minute of their medical school days! I admit, I was guilty of faking dissatisfaction with medical school also, especially early on.
What’s different about medical school? Why do people treat it differently than a job? In my opinion, it boils down to this:
Your teachers or attendings are directly evaluating you. While you are a paid employee on a regular job, you’re paying for school. Therefore the dynamics are much different. There is the feeling to “impress” or to otherwise “not piss off” those that are essentially behind the rest of your future. As a result, you “grin and bear” much more than you would in an ideal situation. On a regular job, it is the employers responsibility to assure that the employees are happy. The dynamic shift results in employees that demand a certain standard of treatment. If that treatment falls below a standard cut-off, employees are more vocal about the situation.
You Are Building Your Inner Workplace Dynamics
The problem with “faking it to get by” is that you are actively creating the attitudes and actions that you will use in the workplace from this day forward. The chances that you will magically change once you finish residency and get into practice are slim.
If you are a practice owner, you’re expectations for employee complaints might be much higher — something along the lines of what you’re used to now on the wards.
If you’re a member of a larger practice group, you might be less open about voicing dissatisfactions in the workplace.
Be Careful. It Might Continue Into Residency
Residency might be the first “real job” that many medical students have ever experienced. Taking the attitude to accept whatever is thrown your way — no matter how unfair it might be — with you almost guarantees that you will negatively impact your workplace dynamics for life. Being afraid to voice dissatisfaction with your employer increases your chances to become a disgruntled employee, and you’ll have to vent at some point.
Polite, But Stern
Don’t be afraid to complain when things aren’t right. You do not deserve to be whored out into Scutville on a daily basis. Your primary responsibility is to learn.
If a resident or attending asks you to complete a trivial, menial task such as getting their food or running a personal errand — outright refuse to do it and then offer an explanation as to why you won’t oblige them.
Next, have them explain their reasoning for expecting you to complete such tasks. You just might be surprised at how low you sit on the totem pole.