I’m not one for ranting, but I am starting to fear medicine. Not because of the loans. Not because of the fear of failure. Not because of the major life changes that will occur. Why? Because I am officially terrified that I will be in bad company throughout medical school, and maybe even in my career. Wait, let me explain…

I am 25 years old and I have yet to meet a traditional premed who isn’t robotic and completely devoid of emotional intelligence (or even a compassionate bone in their body). The only few premeds that I have met who are personable and humble have been non-traditional. Now, I recognize that my background makes me see the world in certain colors. I am a bi-racial female and have been raised in an incredibly diverse “real-world” environment. I come from a broken family, and made it through undergrad without any financial or even emotional support (my parents never attended college, and thus, couldn’t give me advice). I have been working since 16, and have been working with the disabled full-time since the age of 20. Because of work, it took me longer to finish undergrad (I just finished this May), and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I managed to finish successfully with honors and have received several academic scholarships, but I never gloat (except to my family of course :-p). have a BS in Health Science, which is largely made up of social science, and I have alway had a knack for the liberal arts. Personality-wise, I am tough, determined, and bluntly realistic, while at the same time very compassionate, giving, and frighteningly intuitive (I almost border a sixth sense!). I truly enjoy doing volunteer work, and helping people. In addition to my love of science, I mostly look forward to being able to interact with all walks of life and to be able to treat and witness the good, bad, and ugly of society from a healthcare perspective. I have wanted to pursue medicine for as long as I remember, but I keep my dream close to me, because I don’t like unsolicited opinions and shots to my confidence.

I just started an EMT course, which surprisingly has almost no premeds that I know of. However, there is one textbook 21-22 year old premed who just graduated from an Ivy League school and of course he was placed in my group. Seeing our similar obsession with medicine, I naturally struck up a conversation with him. Big mistake. This kid (monotone voice and all) discussed his application, his shadowing, his “good enough” MCAT score, and his plan of going into [insert ridiculous surgical sub-sub-sub-specialty]. This was a little weird, but fine. I expected it. A while later, my group was discussing residency because of course this kid could not talk about anything but medical school. When we were talking about having to break bad news, of ourse the premed chimed in with “well, I think that I’ll be great at breaking bad news. MY attending (mind you, this kid only shadows) is great at it. I plan on being distant, and acting like I care, but only a little bit. Any more caring than that and it’ll seem like I’m projecting my feelings onto them.” I had to pick up my jaw before I replied with “only care a little???” At that point, I really didn’t want to discuss medicine anymore, because I was talking to a wall. He also is under the impression that military medicine will cater to him as far as location, deployment, and even specialty (because his recruiter told him so, duh!). This encounter really bothered me. I really do love people for their differences, and I understand that there’s a special place in medicine and medical school for the nerdy, robotic, gunner types who will without a doubt advance medicine and science because they have brilliant, one-track minds. Howelaver, I seem to have nothing but bad experiences with premeds to draw from. It scares me that if I get in to medical school, I will be surrounded by people like this kid who have to be taught how to have compassion and cannot hold regular, warm, intelligent conversations. I am in love with medicine, but I can’t handle a lifetime of being in bad company.

Someone please tell me that there will be humble, realistic, caring people in medical school for me to interact with. I am beginning to think that I may be a little but too different for today’s medical student population.

End rant.

Sorry your exposure to that dude is ruining your view of med school. While I’ve never been exposed to the traditional premed, I was afraid that they would be just as you described.

I haven’t started school yet, but other people I’ve met in my class and the class ahead of me have been really down to earth. Sure, we talked a little about medicine, but it has mostly been family talk, sports talk, how to have fun in school, what things to do around town, etc. keep the faith that not everyone is a gunner out for themselves. I mean, the first time I met a large group, we were at a bar until midnight watching basketball the night before their final in neuro… They felt they had studied enough and wanted to unwind before the test.

Theoretically the interview process tries to weed some of that gunner mentality out at schools that value collaboration over individual success. I’m sure it’ll still seep into every school,but most classes are large enough that you can probably avoid those people for the most part.

I’m with kennymac. Those “robotic” pre-med students are out there, of course. We all know it. I start medical school in August, and this past April when I was at my school’s revisit weekend, I met a handful of them. But I met MORE people who were not like that (at least, not as far as I could tell from spending 48 hours with them). The truth is, there are obnoxious people of various sorts in all professions. Having had multiple careers, I’ve encountered plenty of them – including in roles supposedly dedicated to helping others. I think the trick is to surround yourself with the people who are on the same page as you are in terms of compassion, dedication, etc. That, and to learn to let the obnoxious-ness slide off you like water off a duck’s back. There’s nothing you can do to change that guy, or others like him. It’s not worth getting worked up over. And if medicine is where you really want to be, it’s not worth giving up your dream, and a career where you could really make a difference.

I agree with previous posters, but here’s another way of looking at it. Many times people act that way because they’re nervous/anxious. I’ve met my share of gunners (there may even be 1-2 in my class) but the vast majority of my classmates are genuine, sincere, caring people. If medicine is where you want to be you can’t let people like that effect you. Best of luck through your journey!

I will say that years ago associating with some folks like that in a med school while working in that university hospital’s research lab is part of what helped me decide to avoid med school at the time. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the kind of person I might become in such an intensely competitive dog-eat-dog world.

Many years later when looking at medical schools, I asked in interviews about what they did to foster collaborative learning. I talked with students at those schools. Found that in many places, the premeds like you describe are who they are weeding out during the interview process. The post-back program I went to was founded because the director of admissions had worked in admissions for a university medical school and wanted to start a program that looked for folks who had the personality and compassion to be GOOD doctors, and also the academic ability to succeed in med school, and give them the prereqs and the head start to get in. Most of the DO schools and some of the MD schools I interviewed at had similar admission philosophies. There will be some gunners everywhere but you will likely also meet many wonderful, compassionate people.


Great responses from everyone, OP.

  • Yes, there will be folks like this in every office/career/job, so don’t pull out of medicine because of a few jerks - they’re everywhere.
  • Yes, these folks were the same that made medicine seem “not me” back when I was in college having to make a real choice about life
  • You could always put on your compassion hat (or rose colored glasses, depending on your view) and remember that all of what have been obstacles for you to overcome, have also afforded you more life experiences than a more traditional applicant. This “kid” perhaps hasn’t had the benefit of really experiencing loss and doesn’t quite get the nuances of breaking bad news. Automaton and all, perhaps once he gets out into the real world, he’ll learn what you already know. He’ll fake it till he makes it and hopefully he either won’t make it and will be self-selected out or will make it and learn along the way.
  • Don’t let one or two or twenty bad encounters push you away if you know this is for you. Bad encounters will be everywhere, so you’ve got to remember what you plan to do in medicine and follow that path.

I’m going to tell you right now, the robotic and unfeeling students aren’t just the traditional pre-meds. Non-trads do it too. My boyfriend is in his third year right now, and I’ve seen students from his class cheat, backstab, and grade-grub. It didn’t make a difference whether they were 22 or 42–the gunners were gunners.

The bright side is that many of the younger “robots” mature. As a 25 year old, your frontal lobe has JUST fully developed, so you’re probably just bewildered by the lack of maturity these younger students have. Trust me, a lot of us were turdbuckets when we were young–and most people DO change. As Professor Stromwell from Legally Blonde says, “If you’re going to let one stupid prick ruin your life… you’re not the girl I thought you were.”

Thanks everyone!!! I feel better knowing that there is more out there than just gunners. After spending a few classes with said gunner, I have to come to the conclusion that his behavior comes from a place of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. He is not too bad when he isn’t thinking about medical school. I actually feel sorry for the poor kid at this point!