Does Medical School Make Students Jaded and Bitter?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

doctor visit (Alex Proimos/flickr)

The third year of medical school is a turning point for all the future doctors of America. It's the time when medical students transition from the classroom years to the clinical years.

It's a time when the future patients of American hope they cultivate a love for healing and the wonders of the human body. But alas, Dr. Danielle Ofri has her doubts. As she sees it, the hope and altruism which led medical students to the field gets pounded down by medical school itself.

Dr. Danielle Ofri is an associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine. Her newest book, “What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine,” is in stores this week.

Rachael Randall, who just finished medical school last month, also weighs in.


Dr. Danielle Ofri and Rachael Randall

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [4]

Emill from Pasadena CA

I left medical school after more than 3 terrible years languishing away my youth in upstate New York.

When I made my final drive home (to California) I felt like and absolute failure.
The rigors of the oft mentioned academic challenges were hard but manageable.
What made my experience intolerable was the people who comprised the medical field.
I have never been in such cold, cruel, insensitive environment before (and after) attending medical school.

I've never been more Verbally abused, Chastised by other adults than when I was trying to earn the opportunity to be a compassionate scholar trying to heal the sick. The stress and tension was thick enough to cut with a knife.

Im still in medicine today but as an acupuncturist and yoga teacher.

My practice is mostly about exploring the connection between emotions and physical symptoms.

these are things I could never have done or learned if I had stayed in the conventional way of thinking.
The practice performed by allopathic (and osteopathic) physicians these days is about medicine;
It has long since forgotten to be about healing.

Jun. 24 2013 09:31 PM
Johanna from Baltimore, MD

Many patients do want to help themselves. Some are right on the ball, and some may need a little bit of push or guidance. It can be very difficult and frustrating as a patient trying to navigate the medical system and the emotions that accompany illness.

That being said, there are some patients who seek help but won't attempt to comply with even basic lifestyle changes (i.e. try to lose some weight), or patients who arrive either via an emergency team or because family prodded them into going in. Many patients do exist who don't take their illness seriously or who are convinced that modern medicine is useless. Medication compliance really is an issue with some patients, even those for whom medication can be helpful. Diet and exercise pose compliance issues as well. There is data to back up the fact that follow-through on the part of patients can be problematic in terms of their treatment effectiveness. The experience of one given individual does not change this; an individual experience does not equal data on group behaviors.

However, practitioners should also be more proactive about helping patients with compliance: empathy, understanding, involving patients, and believing your patients are important parts of the picture and should not be overlooked. Even if a patient sounds "crazy," it is entirely possible that his/her experiences are valid. Trying to approach patients from a caring, understanding perspective can go a long way in improving compliance.

Jun. 07 2013 07:59 PM
Danielle Zora from Connecticut

Agreed Nooney- Medical Students Seem to Lack Empathy- Exhibit A- New Doctor who after a year of clinical work comes away not with respect for people and their abilities to rise above their pain and predicaments but with a handy catch phrase-" people don't want to help themselves"-
plus, how do they know that medical students have empathy coming in- did their fellow students/community recommend them? did they volunteer for years? or did they just know how to write an essay portraying their "concern and compassion"?

Jun. 07 2013 09:43 AM
Nooney from Vancouver, WA

Oh, my blood boils when ever I hear a "professional" (in this case the 'family practitioner' on today's show) say that people "don't want to help themselves." For YEARS, over a decade, I had heard that when the "medications" weren't getting the results expected. I will never forget the voice of one of those "professionals" who told me "You are psychologically resistant to healing." I eventually lost jobs, resulting in loss of health insurance, and therefore loss of access to the medical community. The BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME!!! I was forced to go off the "medications," and now, over 13 years later, even though I have permanent side effects from the "medications" that the "professionals" told me were just in my head, I am FINALLY feeling normal again, able to hold down a job, and even running a small online business.
The FIRST thing any "professional" should be taught is: if you start thinking the patient doesn't want to help him/herself, you need to look at why you are unwilling to believe what the patient is reporting. The fact that the patient is in your office means they want to get better.
Oh, I am steaming after listening to your program!!!

Jun. 06 2013 01:57 PM

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