Why Slackers Will Rule the World … or at Least Make the Best Doctors

subject: Why I Wish I Had Senioritis Much Sooner

After being let down in my family medicine rotation, I stopped trying so hard. I didn’t read for any of my later rotation, unless the attending kept hounding me about it. I may or may not have played hooky. I may or may not have gotten into trouble. I basically did the bare minimum to scrape by.

It was around this time that I considered doing a 1-year internship only, instead of a 3-year family medicine residency program. Heck, if I had that option of not doing post-graduate training (like many of the other medical professions), I would not have even signed up for an internship. I was soooooo ready to do my own thing.

In a sense, I got senioritis — a period when you don’t care about school anymore. Most medical students get it after matching. A few gunners never get it. As for me, it came a year early. I wish it came much earlier.

How Senioritis Freed Me to Explore Life

Senioritis is very liberating. When you stop caring so much about school, you can shift you attention to something else … your passion. I wish I had it since the first year of medical school. (Maybe I would have wised up and dropped out.)

When I first got into medical school, I thought my life was set. All I had to do was concentrate on the course work, grind through medical school and residency … and I’ll make a darn good living later on as a doctor. I did not have to explore what’s out there in life. I did not want to explore.

But when I stopped revolving my life around medicine, I shifted from being a one-trick pony to being a Renaissance man. And as a result, the curiosity about all aspects of life welled up and consumed my soul. I had to channel my energy from medicine to life itself. (There is no such thing as “taking it easy” with me.) So I focused my efforts onto all other fields that interested me, from business to psychology to writing to technology.

I admit … I am not as smart as my peers, in terms of remembering all that medical knowledge off the top of my head. I don’t spend nearly as much time as my peers hunched over some medical journals. But then again, do I really have to memorize everything? Especially when all the information I would ever need is only a click away on the computer?

Why Senioritis Equals Courage

In the first year, I got to know a lot of very bright and very serious peers. As time went on, and as I transitioned from super studious to super slackerish, I got to know the few people on the other side of the spectrum — those who are totally laid-back and could care less about anything (except when it comes to trying to get out of rotations).

These are the few, enlightened people that realize time is better spent on something else than bullcrap, time-wasting, administration-please activities. (Part of broadening my horizons includes getting into trouble. Sometimes I have no option but to rebel, because I know better than to follow commands which make no sense.)

Whenever I paired up with one of these people on rotations, things get very interesting. We share stories of getting into trouble and tactics to get out of rotations early. We laugh about the crazy gunners in class. We even trade tips on how to do the least amount of work while passing. (Remember … P = DO! C = MD!)

If you wanna be like us, cool-kids slackers, I’ll teach you the ropes to do less and to go home earlier sometime in the future. So stay tuned!

But be warned … you’ll need balls of steel to be among the elite. You have to be okay not doing what you are told. You’ll need to be okay getting into trouble if you get caught. In a sense, you’ll need to have senioritis.

Why Die-Hard Slackers Make Better Doctors

You may recoil in horror at what a slacker I am. You may also question if I am fit to take care of patients. Frankly, doctors like me are the ones who take the best care of patients. We are the ones who are able to do what is right by us and what is right by the patients. We are the ones who are brave enough to fight for patients’ rights, especially from “authorities” who implement rules to maximize their benefits … at the little people’s expense.

As John Boyd — the potty-mouthed, rule-breaking aviator, who advanced airplane warface to what it is today — would say … We are fight pilots. Tigers! And although many wish they could be so cavalier, few are able to pull off the same stunts.

Medical students, as a whole, are very conservative and very afraid to rock the boat. That is why the healthcare environment takes advantage of doctors. When the timid young’uns grow up to become timid old’uns, who kowtows to whatever third-party, no-skin-in-the-game “authorities” want, doctors set themselves to be used, abused, and taken advantage of.

With senioritis, you stop caring because you have nothing to lose. When you lack the fear of losing, you gain the courage to win. You gain boldness. You go after what you want. And more often than not, you’ll get it. Because …

Audentes fortuna juvat. Fortune favors the bold.

For more medical school stories, visit the About Alex section and look for “Blast from the Past (Stories of My Medical School Days).”

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