Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Being Enough

Do you ever feel like you’ll just never be good enough?

That’s how I feel today. My new firm leader, Dr Smooth, is a mostly decent bloke. He’s moderately friendly, in a professional way, a bit more friendly with the nursing staff (especially young female staff) and good with patients. Unfortunately, he thinks teaching by humiliation is a good idea.

I don’t agree.

Humiliation is not a good way to learn. It does not create a good atmosphere for learning, it does not encourage the student, it does not encourage honest and open communication between the teacher and the taught.

Dr Smooth asked me to do a cardiovascular exam. I’m the first to admit that I was all over the place. But instead of gently correcting me, leading me to the answer, putting me at my ease to encourage me to give my best, to make mistakes safe in the knowledge that I could, he turned it into was a ritual grilling. He ripped me apart in front of the patient and my peers. My willingness to try and to learn was rapidly replaced by cold fear. Adrenaline pushed its icy fingers in my heart, my pulse thundered, my mouth dried, and my brain solidified.

The second part of his teaching was good – he showed us what signs we should have felt and heard and demonstrated them, letting us have another ‘go’. This is great because I’ve never felt or heard the signs we saw today, and it’s bloody difficult to find them if you’ve only read them in a text book!

But another part of me died today.

Learning to be a doctor is slowly destroying parts of me. Some of I know that I have to lose as part of growing up, and that it’s a good thing even if it hurts. But others I don’t want to lose. I feel as though I am being suffocated, flattened, forced to be something I am not. And its something I don’t want to be. I am losing my joy in medicine – the relentless humiliation and pressure are squeezing out the pleasure.

My creativity and individuality are being lost, my fun and genuine pleasure in medicine are being lost. I am becoming apathetic and unmoved by anything. I just don’t care anymore – anything for a quiet life.

I am becoming something I hate and I can’t see anyway to stop it.

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