So I had an unsettling discussion with a professor at my school today. I’ve never had him for a class but because I study a lot in the chem building between classes we’ve become chummy. During the course of the conversation, he seemed to be steering me away from medical school, so I asked him why he kept mentioning other careers I should consider. He said he didn’t think I could handle the rigors of medical school - not on an intellectual level but based on my personality essentially. He said med school is so competitive (meaning once you’re already in) that the environment is very unfriendly and students would “stab their mother if it meant they could get ahead of you.” I’m a low-key, introverted, intuitive type. While I am very competitive (who doesn’t want to do their best?), it’s certainly not in my composition to purposely harm or hinder another person. I’m used to being the odd one out, and, while I don’t worry about being among extroverted types, I do worry about how my inability to “do whatever it takes, at any cost to others” may effect my chances of being successful in medical school and beyond (residency, etc.). Is this the general environment at all med schools? Can any other “inward-thinkers” who are in or have completed med school shed any light on the topic?
Excellent question marianne … my first question will be: tell me about one career where you will not run into personalities where someone would not “stab their mother if it meant they could get ahead of you.”
I have worked in so many different countries and various kinds of business organizations to know that you will always find someone who would think they can “talk the talk” and gain credit for something you had been working on deligently. AND- it does not occur to them for one moment if such a thing is right or wrong.
When I was younger, I would fight such personalities … but that did more emotional damage to me. Eventually, over the years I realized it is best to distance myself from such toxic personalities. It would still hurt you every now and then, but you will be focussed on what you want and work towards achieving it which will keep you happy.
Bottomline: Life is not fair. AND- Are you waiting for people to do the “right” thing?
Think about it. It always helps me.
Just a FYI: I am much like a personality you described. AND- I have also met people who value “who” I am (besides meeting the toxic ones) … just know they might have their own insecurities that they might not stand up for you, if you ever have that kind of expectation from them.
Hope this helped a little bit. Don’t give up just coz you are nice!
I have a friend who attends a major University for PA. They have some crossover interaction with the med students and she remarked that in general they are quite cutthroat and while the PA students work together, that many med students intentionally give one another false information so they can recieve better grades with the goal of gaining a higher class ranking.
I think it probably depends on what field you want to go into. Something like surgery has very few residency spots and is insanely competative. Those med schools that have a major focus on primary care may have less competative students.
If you really want to do medicine then do it. When you interview at schools ask them what the atmosphere is like. I’m sure the one’s who have student bodies that show lots of cooperation amoung students will more than eager to elaborate on it for you.
The only reason why I would reconsider medicine if I was worried about being “too introverted” is if it would harm my bedside manner. Like if I couldn’t handle a combative patient or a difficult situation. But to avoid med-school because there will be some hyper-competitive a-holes there would not be one of them.
There is a big difference in being “competitive” and being what that professor is describing. Just because you won’t stab someone in the back doesn’t mean that you won’t do as well or better than most of the “type-a” folks. Those folks seem to waste more time on scheming and keeping score than actually doing well.
I also tend to think the folks this professor is talking about are the exception, not the rules. If med-school was a majority of those folks that would mean that every pre-req you take would have 10-20 of those types in them. Now do I have a lot of super smart folks who work hard and make good grades, thus being “competitive” in my classes…yes. I guess I would be one of them, I want to get into med-school so yes I want to do better than at least 90% of my class. Do I feel like when I walk into my classes I need to watch my back…no. So either those folks aren’t as prevalent as portrayed or I haven’t ran into them.
Aside from that DON"T EVER LET ANYONE TELL YOU YOU CAN"T DO SOMETHING. We are all here because we are tired of hearing that crap, so don’t you take it from outsiders either.
Your strengths are in who YOU are and not in the personality of another person or category of people. Extroverted types might be better group communicators (on the whole) while introverts might (on the whole) be better listeners. Everyone, regardless of personality, has strengths that can be great assets to any organization.
In my own experiences (military, sales, manufacturing, management), I have seen people of all personality types succeed, not because of their personalities, but because of their passion to succeed. (My favorite example was a F-15 fighter pilot that was so shy he could hardly look you in the eyes, but when he got in the jet, he became someone else altogether!)
The medical field NEEDS all types of people, not just the Type A’s.
People in our lives often give out free advice, most often with good intentions, but the advice is sometimes based on their own perceptions of a subject rather than actual knowledge of it (or real experience with it).
Accept free advice with grace, analyze it, and place it in the mental file.
THEN, follow your passion, whatever that may be.
marianne - I certainly understand your concerns. When I was a biology pre-med major a LONG time ago, one reason I decided to switch to nursing instead of going to medical school was my exposure to med students working in the lab at an academic medical center - they were very cut-throat at that time, encouraged by the school’s policy of curving all class grades such that the mean of the standard deviation curve got a C and the outliers got A’s and F’s, even if the lowest score was a 90. I thought such an environment would be toxic for me. Unfortunately, I had never even thought of going to another medical school, nor did I research other schools.
So here I am at 53 a first-year medical student - yes I am an “introverted intuitive” - in fact an INFJ. THere is a higher proportion of them in the “caring” professions than general business careers. I’d like to think that medicine is (or SHOULD be) one of the caring professions :). My school is NOT dog-eat-dog. THere is a great deal of helping one another - posting helpful study guides on-line, sharing of resources. The school tends to play down competition - generally not publicising averages for tests or grades. Out of the schools I interviewed at, I’d say that for about half of them, the students commented how much less the schools were dominated by “gunners” than their premed programs had been.
Most of the folks in my post-bac program had come from backgrounds like the Peace Corps or similar service organizations, and it was filled with a preponderance of idealistic types. That is probably not the norm, but part of what that particular program was looking for. I’d say, if you find some med schools to apply to where you feel comfortable, a lot of it will be due to a philosophical “fit”.
As far as being able to handle the rigors of medical school - please! Just because one has a heart, doesn’t mean it is fragile. On the contrary, it may mean that having retained it thru the rigors of life thus far, that it is a rather hardy speciman!
I think your chemistry professor is full of it. Please note that he probably did not actually go to med school. There are jerks everywhere, of course, but you don’t have to be a jerk to succeed in med school. My school seemed to try to weed those people out, anyway, and I had mostly a very nice class. We had some gunners and whiners, but they mostly complained about things (things which, when fixed, benefited the rest of us as well) and I never caught them lying or backstabbing.
Thank you everyone for all the kind encouragement! I’m very glad to hear that this type of behavior is not present at all med schools. Between now and application submission, I will be trying to determine which schools have the student atmosphere that best suits me - so far I can add WVSOM and Milwaukee to that list, thanks to Kate and samenewme! And I completely agree, ChicBrownie - all careers, including the one I’m currently in, are riddled with people ready to undermine you. Which is why this professor’s comments were so off base - I already deal with this problem on a daily basis and I handle it just fine. One unfortunate downside to being an introvert - when faced with such rude comments, I’m not quick with the comebacks…but give me some time to mull it over in my head and I have plenty I’d like to have said!
There are always a few “gunners” in every class at med school - usually those who have dreamed of doing an ultracompetitive specialty like ophtho or derm since birth - but by and large the vast majority are just trying to survive. Ironically, after people realize how difficult it is to do exceptionally well in medical school, many of them abandon their gunnerish ways and become a lot more amenable to cooperating with others or at least quite trying to succeed at the cost of others.
There are certainly medical schools where the atmosphere is a lot more competitive than others. That is something to seek info about when you do interviews. Schools that rank students numerically rather than in more general terms and who put out ranking information frequently are those who tend to be more gunnerish.
Ohio State had actually done away with ranking, however the LCME required them to put in some kind of ranking system so that residencies could better evaluate students. So - we had a system where every in every “course” students can earn Honors, Letters, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. Different components of the curriculum are weighted and during 4th year, these are added up to place students in certain “groups”. You can see how they do this at http://medicine.osu.edu/students/life/career_ advising/mspe/cluster/pag es/index.aspx . Students are actively discouraged from trying to keep constant track of where they rank - if you go ask the Dean’s office, they usually won’t tell you unless there is a compelling reason.
Hope this helps.
I,too, am an introverted intuitive, or more completely, an introverted intuitive feeling perceiving INFP according to the Myers-Briggs test. I’ve taken the test (in written and online form and in different versions) and always come up as INFP. Most doctors, however, come up as extroverts, not introverts. The exceptions are psychiatrists. I, too, have had people try to persuade me that personality-wise I might not be fit for medical school, even if I would be fit (personality-wise, not grade-wise) for medicine. A major concern is how your intuitive introverted personality affects your learning in premed/post-bacc and then in medical school. Some studies have shown that intuitive feeling types such as myself don’t do that well in premed and medical school; it is not that we don’t study – I study all the time – it is that the way we study is not necessarily that efficient and the way we process information is somewhat counterintuitive to the what science courses demand of students. We get distracted too easily, too lost in minutiae and not see the larger connections. We can get sidetracked into other things before swinging back to focus on the topics at hand. Medical school is too fast paced for some of us inward thinkers. I recently came across a great book on how to study in medical school; in it, the author goes to great lengths to discuss Myers-Briggs types and how it affects learning in medical school.
Hmm - this INFJ is getting a few B’s and mostly A’s so far… Important thing is to mull over what’s working and what’s not and make changes in studying techniques ASAP when warrented.
Kewlness on those grades!
The 13th surgeon general of USA was “Introvert” and “Intuitive”. INTJ to be exact.
This poll is quite interesting! Check it out.
Okay chic this is way off topic, but it is almost midnight and my micro lab report is finally done. But would you take anyone seriously on a Pre-med message board with a “Meredith Grey” avatar?
Since I do not know about her … why would you not take someone with Meredith Grey avatar seriously?
Maybe then I can speak what I think about it.
I was feeling a little snarky last night. She is the character from the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy” Just the whole perpetuation in the media of what med-school is like gets me a little riled and I was cranky, feel free to disregard. The thread you posted was interesting.
- samenewme Said:
Give the chemistry a little lee-way will you?
The chem professor probably only knows of medical students from the slew of cutthroat premeds who have gone thru his courses. So his view may be skewed. I find this the most common situation
But as my right-honorable friend, Dr. Denise above, the chemistry guy could be a wanna-MD who didn't make it. BTW, I have the found the politics of an academic department and research grants is probably much worse than medical students.
You hit the nail on the head, Gonnif!
Okay, based on that poll and what others have said, I stand corrected. I was just re-stating what one medical school researcher had found. Obviously, she did not talk to, nor test, any OPM.
I that SDN poll, I find those who have the TJ (thinking-judging) interesting. I suppose it is useful since as a doctor you have to make decisions about someone else and can’t vacillate too much. They have to think hard and fast and make decisions firmly. Judging types apparently like to tell others about things (“I think you have XXX” where XXX is some condition or disease).
But then again, maybe it’s all nonsense, but interesting nonsense nonetheless.
- datsa Said:
I that SDN poll, I find those who have the TJ (thinking-judging) interesting. I suppose it is useful since as a doctor you have to make decisions about someone else and can't vacillate too much. They have to think hard and fast and make decisions firmly. Judging types apparently like to tell others about things ("I think you have XXX" where XXX is some condition or disease).
But then again, maybe it's all nonsense, but interesting nonsense nonetheless.
In technology, I would classify this study as a "microsoft" answer. It maybe interesting and even possibly accurate, but totally meaningless to the issue at hand. That is, how does this information change your rational and motivating reasons to become a physician? It doesn't
This represents an instance of Rule 10: FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Deciding to not attend to medical school based on the potential competitive nature of fellow students seems to more self-doubt to your own motivation and confidence to be a success in medical school. Do not lose sight of why you want to be a doctor and do not look at this as a competitive race to be accepted and successful in medical school. It is much more important that you have confidence in yourself that you can make it and finish this marathon of medical education and become the physician that you dream of being