This month, I've been rotating at a program out west and it's my first time interacting with an extern from another school. I'm not sure if it's because we're from different schools or if I'm rubbing him the wrong way or if he's just a bad apple, but he has been trying to one-up me at every turn, even going out of his way to do so. And it's cheesing me off.
For example, if a resident asks us to break down a pt's bandage while rounding, he will rush in front of me so he can do it--even if I happen to be standing squarely in front of the pt's bedside! Some of it is silly stuff too: If I happen to be standing behind an attending while he is gowning, my co-extern will physically place himself between us so he gets to tie the gown. What's annoying is that if I ask a well-thought out question to one of the residents or attendings, and the response is less than enthusiastic, my co-extern will not fail to have some condescending commentary for me, no matter how useless or irrelevant, as though the answer were perfectly obvious to him and I'm a blithering idiot for venturing forth to ask.
In the past, when working with my classmates, my philosophy has been that we're better off cooperating than competing. I help you, you help me, and we're both better off. If the residents then see that we can cooperate, we both look good. Besides, then 5-10 years in the future, we cross paths again, and we say "Oh yeah I remember him, he's really good to work with and a great Dr." Up until this month, I've had nothing but good experiences following that strategy.
What's happening here is that he's scoring points at my expense. I'm trying to be a professional and he's acting like a child. If I start bickering with him, it's going to be mutually destructive, so I'm not going to do that, as much as I'd like to take him down with me. I've basically written off this month, since I feel like he's hogged all the glory. With one week to go, it's fine by me if he wants to go on kissing everyones' butts (to use terms the moderators won't censor).
My question is how do you deal with a person like this? Is he going to succeed following this strategy? Is this what it takes to get a residency? I would expect it for MBA or JD students but not from us. Does it even make a difference who ties off the attending's gown? Am I wrong to prefer cooperation over competition?