Being a medical student in 2019 is a strange predicament. We are the most competitive matriculants to ever apply to medical school, with GPA averages around 3.8 and MCAT scores in the 90th percentile. 60% of medical school applicants were unable to find a seat at ANY medical school in the country.
We know there were easier ways to become “providers”, but we chose this profession, despite it being more difficult. My classmates are incredibly intelligent and caring people. We are (mostly) eager to learn and become excellent physicians. Many of my classmates are also aware of the prevailing issues in medicine: midlevel creep, corporatization, insurance issues, and more. Our job as medical students is to be pushed to work hard, to not be coddled, to be told to stay the extra hour to learn something new, to be overworked and under-slept. I believe my classmates are under the impression that this is the rite of passage to become the physician that will keep the patient from the pathologist.
I know there’s not much that I, as a medical student, can ask of attending physicians. You are overworked, overburdened, and undervalued. I only took my oath to the profession a few short months ago. Please remember that oath, no matter how long ago you recited it.
Make us better future physicians
I want to ask you to be mentors that hold your medical students to the highest standard. Make us feel scared that we will make mistakes; tell us what our deficits are; help us improve our clinical skills. This is something that every physician can do, whether in private practice or academics. Offer to take in a medical student, but also emphasize to the medical student that it will not be easy and you will make them work their butts off.
We want to be better, for the sake of our patients.
Because that is what separates our profession from every other profession in healthcare. Contrary to what seems the common opinion of older physicians, we don’t all buy into the “participation trophy” or “snowflake” culture. We want to be better, for the sake of our patients. My last request of you, the attending physician, is to mentor the medical student in navigating medical politics. Teach them the politics of dealing with nursing staff, dealing with administrators, dealing with program directors, dealing with other physicians, dealing with employment contracts, all the potential pitfalls. This is becoming an essential skill, now more than ever.
Lastly, prioritize medical education over Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner education. Realize that doing all of these things will take time and make your day harder, but you will leave a lasting impression on the next generation of physicians.
Taking back medicine and improving patient care requires us, the next generation of physicians, to be as good as the previous generation of physicians. This is not just our responsibility, but your responsibility as well.
The Millennial Medical Student