Are you a Thumb or an Index Finger?

Hello OPM, This website gave me much information and inspiration when I was first contemplating following my passion. I lost touch throughout the process but have never forgotten where my inspiration was supported. I am 3/4 of the way through my first year of med school and was speaking to my mentor about ways to mentor others and remembered OPM.

With that said, I have a quick anecdote.

Finished our Endo/Repro block today with a written and GA practical exam. There were many structures that were “labeled” harshly on the GA practical to say the least. With that said I was conversing with colleagues post exam and heard a lot of “it’s not fair”, “they shouldn’t do it that way”, a lot of FUD. I remembered how I used to tell my employees to be the Thumb. You see, what my colleagues were doing is being an Index finger. In other words all they wanted to do is point a finger at our Anatomy faculty as to why the exam was so hard and blame them for “us” not being prepared for the difficult way in which the exam was presented. The reality is that this type of discussion does little to help us become better doctors, let alone help us improve our chances of scoring well on the next GA practical. So I interjected that everyone should be a Thumb. After a few dirty looks I was able to explain that the reality is that yes the exam was difficult, however we needed to look at not WHY the faculty made it so difficult, but WHAT we needed to do differently to prepare better for the next exam. In that way we could use our frustration to collaborate on a “smarter” way to study for the next practical. (trust me it was not a time issue, my group almost contemplated sleeping in the lab one night because we were there so late) Wouldn’t you know it, 30 minutes later we had what I felt was a pretty good change to our approach for the next exam. So our opportunity for improvement was used for just that, improvement. I have seen many people in the corporate world, med school, and life in general be an index finger, when being a Thumb would actually help bring a solution to the problem instead of adding to the problem. So the next time you are challenged with an opportunity, be the Thumb. Best of Luck, Cheers.

Celtic -

I’m glad to see you posting here. You have great perspective. I don’t know your age, but I do see this issue as a great divide between me (>30) and the younger people in my post-bacc. People love to complain about how exams are unfair, poorly written, etc.

While I keep it to myself (complainers gonna complain), my mantra is: The only person you’re ever going to change in life is yourself.

Thanks Esperen,

I have officially “hit my stride” in med school and I have organized some time within each day to do some postings amongst some various websites I used to have much more time for in the past. I can picture myself sitting up at night pondering my next decision and turning to OPM for guidance and inspiration. I hope I can help others gain the courage to make this journey because it is truly awesome. (there are of course valleys within the mountains, but the highs far out weigh the lows).

It is easy to get caught up in the complaining that will occur during your post bacc. This complaining only seems to increase in med school as suddenly 1st year med students feel that they “know it all” and they must be right. Many have yet to learn the art of assertiveness and instead take a very aggressive stand of their position. As a 34 yo with a past in middle management in corporate america I sometimes find myself turning on my inner management gear and intervening when the FUD kicks in amongst the class. Don’t get me wrong, there are many students in my class that are mature beyond their years, and also many non trads that have the real world experience to know better. However, it only takes a few complainers to suddenly create a “herd” mentality. The key is to professionally vent concerns up. In other words, complaining amongst ourselves will only lead to more FUD. However, it is important to vent in med school as there is a lot of stress and frustration amongst the great things. So my final thought would be, to try to vent up when you can, and if you can’t, find a group within your class that you feel you can productively vent to each other, by turning your frustration into progress. Use your maturity to inspire your fellow students to use these opportunities to improve, not only will your experience improve, but you will have a great feeling of making a difference even before you are a physician. This journey is hard, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Best of Luck, Cheers.

This reminded me a similar story, which I write solely for humor value.

In corporate america there are always these “programs” to improve process, paradigms for re-engineering, and other such things that seem mostly to improve the income of the vendors selling these things ( This one on fish spawned an entire industry - pun intended)

At some technology management conference with about 50 of my colleagues, my boss tried to use a technique from one these silly ass program called fist or five. That is when trying to get a idea for how the group at meeting feel about an item, people can raise their hands with “fist” being lowest and all “five” fingers being the highest. I couldnt help comment to the assembled, which included very senior management in my division, that in new york single extended finger was less than a zero fist.