md/phd students are assholes
Or so some people must think. I still owe you all a post on the MD/PhD student experience of going through residency interviews but one aspect of my interviews came to mind today and I wanted to write about it in a separate post. (For the non-medical readers, if you didn’t catch my rants on the residency interview process, here’s a previous post I wrote as background). One question that I was asked at a number of places was, “do you think you will be able to take orders from a more senior resident who is younger than you?”
And my response was: “No. If I am older, then I MUST know more than anyone younger regardless of how many years of residency the other individual has been through or that I have no experience in residency.”
What the fuck? (yeah I’m writing it out). Is it just me or was the interviewer essentially asking me if I’m an arrogant asshole? It was even worse when I’d get the same question from different interviewers at the same place. And it wasn’t just directed at me (although you may be thinking that), because I’ve heard other MD/PhD students getting the same question.
The interviewer follows up: “Because some MD/PhD students have a hard time taking orders from younger residents.”
Here’s some breaking news: there are assholes in every field and every sub-group of people. Sure there are jerks amongst MD/PhD students, but there are also jerks amongst regular medical students and residents as well.
There are medical students and residents who walk into labs for their research rotations and having done some PCR several years ago, think that they are much better than graduate students or post-docs. These people ultimately not only alienate everyone around them but also fuck up other people’s experiments through contamination, etc. Yup, research people know exactly what I’m talking about. And guess what–these fuck-ups are not MD/PhD students. Yes, there are assholes everywhere.
Now, my assumption is that these interviewers have had bad experiences in the past, which is why they ask. And yes, I’ve even known MD/PhD students who have told me in the past that it’s bullshit to take orders from residents who are several years younger, but they were in the minority in my experience, and even before hearing that I would’ve classified them as arrogant.
However, as I described above, I and others I know have had bad experiences with arrogant medical students and residents in the lab but that doesn’t stop me from giving them the benefit of the doubt to begin with. In all fairness, though, I will acknowledge that the distrust does run both ways–yeah research people, I’m looking at you. I remember in our lab the graduate students used to have a serious distrust and unjustified dislike of medical students, residents and fellows who rotated through the lab. But that wasn’t cool either. So let’s just try to get along people!
Anyway, to end in a helpful and non-ranting manner, I’ll say how I always answer this question:
We all choose different paths. That I may be older than many of the residents I’ll be working with isn’t because I was wasting my time–but rather because I was pursuing my own career goals through graduate school and getting a PhD. In that time though, these residents have accumulated far more medical knowledge and experience than I have so there is absolutely no reason why I would have a problem learning and taking orders from them.
That’s reasonable, I think.