Inside Doctoring: Stages and Outcomes in the Professional Development of Physicians

By Robert H. Coombs; D. Scott May et al. | Go to book overview

1
Pre-Medical and Medical School Training

Why would anyone seek involvement in a situation that requires giving up $100,000 of earned income while paying another $50,000 to an educational institution in order to work eighty hours a week for the next eight years under highly stressful conditions? A thoughtful person would question the motivation and wisdom of such an individual. Ruling out insanity as an explanation, one wonders what the ultimate payoff might be. Why would anyone pursue a course that requires so much sacrifice?

We speak, of course, of pre-med students, or, as they are less affectionately known by their peers, "grinds" or "science jocks." Willing to sacrifice much of the pleasure and freedom of their undergraduate years to attain a place in medical school, these students typically enroll in highly competitive and demanding science courses, and will not be satisfied with anything less than an "A". Then, to top it off, they willingly fly to distant cities at their own expense to undergo multiple interrogations by strangers who search for their defects.

Remarkably, nearly 40,000 medical school applicants in the United States submit each year to such ordeals. Moreover, of the 25,000 who do not win a place in medical school, most repeat the struggle the following year, or leave the country to participate in a similar ritual.

Clearly, considerable planning and personal commitment must be evident before one applies to medical school. But this was not always the case. During the early part of this century, medical schools had more available places than applicants. However,

-3-

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