I will begin this post by saying that I DO NOT listen to music by Paula Abdul. When I first got my ipod, I put all of someone else’s mp3 files on it. Some of these mp3s included tracks by Paula Abdul. In the last 3 years, I have just been too lazy to erase those files so I just flip over them when they come on. Long story short, I pulled up to swipe into the hospital garage at the same time a big shot faculty from my department pulled up in the lane next to me. With my window rolled down while I swiped in, the track changes to “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul. Volume loud of course. And the faculty member turns over and looks into my car, spots me and gives me an expression of WTF?!?!?!. So now of course I feel like a complete tool especially since it’s not even music I listen to. Not that I have particularly good music taste anyway–the preceding track was “Wheel in the Sky” by Journey so I don’t know how much better that is (whatever, Journey RULES). But what if I did listen to Paula Abdul? Would I be any less of man? Probably yes but is it grounds for thinking less of me as a person (which is most likely what was going through the mind of this faculty member)? Borderline yes/no but I think no.
Which brings me to my point. What is the deal with walking on egg shells around big shot medical people? I’m all for giving up the respect and love for the old school–in fact I would err on the side of too much love and respect. But sometimes it feels like I’m always looking over my shoulder whenever I break from the military-style march down the hospital hallways and act a little human. I have one buddy who won’t get caught with a cup of coffee in his hand in front of some faculty (even if he’s in the cafeteria). Wouldn’t you consider that going too far? Part of it is the fact that those of us on the lower end of the totem pole are always being evaluated or trying to prove ourselves for the big guys at the top. But part of it is also just the culture. This kind of thinking is really ingrained in the culture of medicine (some fields more than others) and my feeling is that it can be one of the aspects that turns people off from a medical career. I’d like to think that I’ll be able to change the system from the inside once I get on top but by then I’ll probably be too old and tired to even remember about this.
So how far do you go? I don’t know. I guess as far as your comfort zone will allow you to. At the very least, as I was advised once, try not to call faculty members “dude” or “man”. And that’s probably the best advice you will find on this blog.