A must read. MD, Med Student, and Pre-Med.

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Voxel, Jun 21, 2002.

  1. Voxel

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    I picked up an interesting book called: The Medical Student's Survival Guide by Steven R. Polk. And boy is it an eye opener. It talks about medical school, residency, and private practice. Anyone else read this book and what did you think of it?

    It seems to be out of print but you can order it directly from the publisher online. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this book. <a href="http://www.galenpress.com" target="_blank">www.galenpress.com</a>
     
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  2. If all entering medical students were given a copy to read I think rad, ophtho, anesthesia, derm, etc. would be even more competitive than they are now. At the same time it would make students see what the real priorities are in having a succesful medical career.

    Too often medical students get hooked on a specialty because they enjoyed a brief rotation in an academic settings. What they fail to think about is the lifestyle
    (money, hours, power in the hospital, etc.) after residency. This book outlines that nicely for each field.

    I wonder what the author's specialty is? I would bet on neuro because of several comments he makes in the book. I mean he slams this field so bad! A must read for every medical student.
     
  3. Fanconi

    Fanconi Senior Member
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    Is this book motivational and good for a pick-me-up? Or is it gonna make me wish I had stayed a music major? :rolleyes:

    <img src="http://www.geocities.com/metalmedicine/Fanconiw.jpg" alt=" - " />
     
  4. Plat

    Plat Junior Member

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    The author is soooo cynical! I feel bad for him that he obviously seems to have chosen the wrong specialty (or maybe he chose wrong by going to medical school in the first place). That being said there are some helpful pointers in the book and it should give another viewpoint to the naive or starry-eyed medical student.
     
  5. "should give another viewpoint"

    NO, it will give the correct viewpoint :mad:
     
  6. ApacheIndian

    ApacheIndian philomath
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    Voxel! You let the cat out of the bag :mad: <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> ! I read this book 4 years ago and loved it. Then I read it again, and again. I still refer to it often. Steven Polk is my idol :) . IMHO, he is far from being a "cynic"... he's a realist. I've been holding my breath for an updated edition (things have changed in the past few years significantly)... I'd love to hear what Dr. Polk's opinions are of the specialties today.

    I had just assumed that everybody on these boards had already read this book... this book and Iserson's book together make for excellent reading... both present the authors' opinions... one quite bias, the other objective.

    Well Voxel, considering that you hadn't already read the book before Matching Rads, I'd say Dr. Polk would be very proud of you indeed <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> ... congrats again...
     
  7. Voxel

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    Fanconi, it may not be a pick me up book, but the sooner you read it the better. You maybe not want to open your eyes to the reality, but I believe it's better to be educated than to be ignorant especially when it comes to your career. I just wish I found out about it earlier. I already went through the match, but I could have used this book as an "ignorant" MS-I.
     
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  8. Fanconi

    Fanconi Senior Member
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    Does it make you feel any better if I tell ya I'm applying to derm this year? Even without having read the book? <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />

    <img src="http://www.geocities.com/metalmedicine/Fanconiw.jpg" alt=" - " />
    <a href="http://pub73.ezboard.com/bmetalmedicine" target="_blank">-=Fanconi=-</a>
     
  9. lrg

    lrg Junior Member
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    I actually have two copies of it, which I bought used at the suggestion of Joe Mama over at auntminnie. I first picked up the 2nd edition and then when I found a fourth edition available I bought that since it was so great. I have kept quiet about it around my classmates since I don't want to invite any more competition for rads. But since the topic has been raised, I have to admit that it is the single most important book I have read in medical school. Before reading the book I was interested in rads but was still planning to do IM since that's what "real doctors" do, even though I was miserable throughout my IM rotation. The book opened my eyes and prevented me from choosing a path that I am now sure I would have regretted for the rest of my career. I plan to donate the older copy to my med school library after the match.
     
  10. Voxel

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    What do you think are the main differences between the 2nd and 4th edition?
     
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  11. vyc

    vyc Senior Member
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    i may be blind but i went to the galenpress website and couldn't find the book.
    can someone list the direct link or tell me step-by-step how i can get to it?

    thanks!
     
  12. gassman

    gassman Junior Member
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    I bought the book in 1999 and recoiled in horror initially -- "so bitter", I thought. After I started on the wards in 2000, I started re-reading it....Boy, it sure is amazing how getting beaten on as a MS3 will change your perspective! I agree that the man is not a cynic, but rather a realist. His is the most influential book I have read while in med school.It is directly responsible for 5 or 6 of my friends and I doing rads/anesthesia. We call the book "the Gospel" for good reason.
     
  13. LSUMed

    LSUMed New Member

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    I can't find the book on the website either. I found a link for it via google.com, but it states that the link is outdated when clicking on it. I really would like some way to read the 4th edition. Is anyone interested in selling a copy?

    Jason
     
  14. efs

    efs SDN Advisor
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    To add my 2 cents.

    Whether you think Polk is a realist of a cynic, it is still well worth reading. In either case you would have to read it to make up your mind which he is. If you re-read it later you might change your mind.

    The copy I have is the 4th ed. It is out of print. I'm not sure why I think so, but I got the feeling that Polk is no longer practicing medicine. Because of this I wouldn't try holding my breath waiting for a new edition.

    You can't have my copy. I'm not ready to get rid of it. There are several places on the web that you could look for out of print books. But my recommendation is that you check the libraries too. I know there is a copy in my schools library.

    Good luck in making your decisions. The more input you can get the better of you will be.
     
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  15. wbd161

    wbd161 Member
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    It's out of print and even Galen Press has discontinued selling it from their website. If you search Google, you get a link saying the page no longer exists.
     
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  16. Voxel

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    Sorry folks, I guess they pulled the book from their website. I saw it on there a few days ago. Anyway I am sure there are used copies floating around. It's really a shame that they don't sell it anymore. You can even interlibrary loan the book if you are willing to wait several weeks to get it from your local library.
     
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  17. Hey all, can somebody please summarize what the book says about general surgery and/or CT surgery? Thanks a bunch.
     
  18. surg

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    Someone gave me this book when I was a student. All in all I really disliked his tone and attitude, but it is definitely a more negative viewpoint on medicine. Particularly disliked his view on dating/marriage etc. as I recall (haven't looked at it in years). If someone wants it I can send it to you for the price of shipping (I have no idea how much it would cost to send) + 5 dollars (basically the cost to pack it and to take the time out of my day to go to the post office since it is heavier than 1 pound so it can't go into the mailbox on the corner). PM me and we will set it up.
     
  19. ApacheIndian

    ApacheIndian philomath
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Mr Vain:
    <strong>Hey all, can somebody please summarize what the book says about general surgery and/or CT surgery? Thanks a bunch.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Sure. Basically, stay far away from them. At the end of the section of the book where Dr. Polk goes over the specialties, he ranks his top 5. In order, they are...
    1) Optho
    2) Rads
    3) Anesthesia
    4) Path
    5) Cardiology
     
  20. Acro Yali

    Acro Yali Senior Member
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    Why is cardiology on that list? It doens't exactly have the reputation of being a money/lifestyle speciality since the training is so freaking long. Immunology/allergy seems more like it.
     
  21. checkthisout

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    and urology? any mention?
     
  22. droliver

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    Mr. Polk (not to be confused with my boss Dr. Hiram Polk) rather than presenting a "realistic" view, presents a very disillusioned and cynical view of medicine. It left me thinking why he even bothered to go to medical school. Unfortunately, his sentiments & views are echoed by an alarming numbers of posters on this site <img border="0" title="" alt="[Frown]" src="frown.gif" />
     
  23. pimmar

    pimmar Member
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    Hi everyone. I just ordered my copy of the book. I guess I will see for myself what Mr. Polk has to say whether he is cynical or what not. I think many of us go through a lot of weighing of pros/cons to a particular field. I know I have been there. In the end though, just be honest with yourself and just make sure you really like it. It's a job you will have to get up to everyday for the next 30 years or so, so go into it because you can see yourself being there and not minding the time you put into it. I know at least for me, I need patient contact and to establish relationships with my patients, and although anesthesia, path, or rads offers a nice lifestyle (pretty tempting), but in the end I get the most satisfaction from knowing I helped my patients and that they appreciate what I do for them (at least most of them).
    OK here is the website: <a href="http://www.majors.com." target="_blank">www.majors.com.</a> There is a 3-4 week back order, and you can choose any affiliated book store closest to or in your state. Good luck everyone. :cool:
     
  24. Voxel

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    Whatever you think of his take on medicine, I believe it is a book that one should read and ponder. And yes, he is cynical and bitter from what I have read. However, I recommend reading it for yourself and forming your own conclusions.
     
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  25. ApacheIndian

    ApacheIndian philomath
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Acro Yali:
    <strong>Why is cardiology on that list? It doens't exactly have the reputation of being a money/lifestyle speciality since the training is so freaking long. Immunology/allergy seems more like it.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Dr. Polk didn't select these 5 based on those types of criteria alone; he used multiple criteria and delegated varying weight to each of them to judge the specialties objectively. Cardio made it b/c it ranked high on the "real doctor" factor... Dr. Polk's opinion is that if one is going into IM, the only real winner there is Cardio.
     
  26. ApacheIndian

    ApacheIndian philomath
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by checkthisout:
    <strong>and urology? any mention?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Yup. Stay away. As per Dr. Polk, stay away from all the surgical fields, except for maybe Plastics where you can "party like a movie star" <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> according to him...
     
  27. arthur v

    arthur v Member
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    I skimmed the book in my medical school's library some time ago and found it to be a pointless tirade by a sad and jaded individual. His hostility toward women is particularly disturbing. Like Dr. Oliver, I wonder about those who have actually taken the book's messages to heart in their career planning. This is no crusty veteran telling it like it is; rather, it's someone who made the wrong choices in his life, both professionally and personally, and now wants to share his misery with the world.

    AV
     
  28. maybe so, but by writing the book he is trying to prevent young, naive med. students from making the same mistakes he made
     
  29. droliver

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Dr. Cuts:
    <strong>
     
  30. Goofy

    Goofy Senior Member
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    This book is a rather silly and sometimes infantile tantrum about aspects of medicine that the author has little or no experience in. ANY field of medicine can be micromanaged to fit a particular lifestyle if necessary. I don't consider this must read material at all. More like hysterical banter by a largely uninformed and inexperienced fringe personailty.

    I suppose it makes some people feel more comfortable with their specialty of choice. The book is largely nonsensical. Further, it represents a rather disturbing attempt to an endanger the career of some exellent would be physicians by offering some sinister and deranged generalizations as if it were codified law. The advice is largely off the mark, and those who take it to heart thinking this information is offered by one of medicine's brilliant minds are likely to be following poor guidance. And that can be terribly disruptive on one's career.

    People, if you choose a career in radiology, and learn you despise long hours in the dark away from sunlight, you are likely to bring home a lot of anger and hatred to your family. If you cant stand passing gas all day around surgeons (sounds like fun) and go into for the wrong reasons, you equally likely to share this venom with your loved ones. Any field of medicine can be sculpted and tailored. Without gratification, lifestyle becomes a less important meter of happiness.

    The book gets zero stars out of five for presenting absolute rubbish as some kind of unidsclosed secret. The author is about as believable as a high school guidance counselor (who by the way advised me to forget about college pursuits, as my high school transcript wasn't up to par. In his opinion, my high school grades predicted poor academic outcome. I later went on to become valedictorian of a large top tier university (thanks to the sats), and have achieved what I consider to be a fine amount of success.)

    The book makes better kindling than a rewarding read.

    YMMV

    K.P.
     
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  31. SYD

    SYD

    Hi there

    Can somebody tell me how I could order this book online ??

    I just tried majors.com with not much luck <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    Can anybody on the forum suggest to me another couple of good books for me (preparing for math 2003 from Australia ) to know more about US residency programs.
     
  32. HairlessHeart

    HairlessHeart Member
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    OK, for those of you that don't think this book is worthwhile, what book(s) do you recommend that cover the same subject?
     
  33. NuMD97

    NuMD97 Senior Member
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    I found three copies, used, on the amazon.com website if anyone is interested. It comes with a hefty price tag though: $83.50.
     
  34. SYD

    SYD

    That's going to like 170 Aus 4 for me . Ooops ..

    I think I am going to wait for a while, probably a day or two before I make up my mind.. :)
     
  35. ApacheIndian

    ApacheIndian philomath
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    Wow... lotta med heads on this board... oh well, to each his own I guess...
     
  36. Voxel

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    I do not share his views on many things in the book. But it gave me pause to wonder what could turn someone so bitter and jaded. I think however it is a worthwhile read. There are many who will not be happy no matter what field they choose or what line of work they are in.
     
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  37. Ferris

    Ferris Member
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    This is a ridiculous discussion. Some people like chocolate and others like vanilla. If I wrote a book and gave you numerous criteria for reasons to love chocolate and hate vanilla, do you think that your taste preferences would change? (sadly, for some, probably so)

    If you are one of these people that are willing to alter your life based on a book, an opinion, an economic forecast, etc-- then I say you are probably to damn conformist to be brilliant enough to practice plumbing, not to mention medicine.
     
  38. Spidey

    Spidey Leorl's official stalker
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Ferris:
    <strong>Some people like chocolate and others like vanilla.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I like orange juice.
     
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  39. lrg

    lrg Junior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Ferris:
    <strong>
    If you are one of these people that are willing to alter your life based on a book, an opinion, an economic forecast, etc-- then I say you are probably to damn conformist to be brilliant enough to practice plumbing, not to mention medicine.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">So how did you make your choice? Did you insulate yourself from all of the residents and attendings, refuse to read the paper or open a book so you could make the decision in a vacuum? Of course not, there were 101 influences that, to varying degrees, helped shape your decision. I didn't say, "Gee, Dr. Polk says do gas, rads or eyeballs, therefore that's what I am going to do." What he did do was open my eyes to the underside of medicine, observations which are borne out on a daily basis in the complaints and regrets voiced by residents and attendings on the wards and in the clinics.
     
  40. mikegoal

    mikegoal rebmeM
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    Only orange juice without the pulp I shouldnt have to chew my drinks
     
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  41. Weil-Felix

    Weil-Felix Super Flying Squirrel
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    I just started reading this book the other day. Although I am only a few chapters into the book, I just wanted to add my thoughts so far...

    While I don't disagree that Dr. Polk presents at least a few pearls of wisdom in his book (what I've read of it, at least), his credibility was diminished considerably (in my eyes) when he began his sexist tirade about women and marriage. For those of you who do not have the book, here's an excerpt:

    (on divorce pp. 6-7 3rd edition)
    "But there may be further grounds an ex can use to claim a man as her lifelong meal ticket. Did she support him while in training? Financial aid clinches the case, and you had better believe she is saving those cancelled checks"

    Is he kidding?! Read on.

    "Her attorney will argue that she aborted her career as a theoretical physicist to take a more practical job as a secretary, just to put him through medical school, with the understanding-which the court takes as a verbal and enforceable contract-that he would support her in opulence the rest of her days. Courts have been known to award a percentage of a man's medical license to these leeches."

    I can't believe what a jackass this guy is. One more quote.

    "You will find a clutch of house docs already splitting their paychecks with ex-wives drooling in wait for heavy dough once hubby finishes residency."

    What century does this guy live in? He makes all women sound like a bunch of gold-diggers and greedy bitches who only love a man for his money. Maybe he is just a social loser who really doesn't have anything else to love about him. But in this day and age, most women are capable of making their own success in life, and do not need to rely on "hubby" to make it for them. I myself have never met a girl who determines her mate soley based on his earning potential.

    Anyway, I don't wish to disagree too emphatically with the original posters about the quality of his advice regarding choice of residency, etc.. It may very well be helpful to some people. But I would not suggest taking any of his personal or relationship advice to heart, because he is extremely off mark.
     
  42. Goofy

    Goofy Senior Member
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    Weil,

    Thanks for saving me the trouble of digging up my copy of this ode to stupidity. There are several examples of why the author deserves to be in the company of the certifiably insane. While I largely agree with many of Voxel's opinions in the past, I don't recommend reading every piece of drivel on the market. The author lacks any kind of credibility, proceeds to make hysterical and some rather outlandish assertions about disciplines he, ironically, has little to no experience in. The title of the book should be 'Manifesto from the nuthouse.'

    Book burning at my place 8 p.m. sharp.

    K.P.
     
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  43. DOcjoshua

    DOcjoshua Member
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    Just to let everyone know that is looking for a copy of this book, I found it on Amazon.com. They have four used copies and the cheapest one sells for is $39.95 and they go up to $60.60. Just type the title into the search and scroll through the results. It was the 7th or 8th item listed when I did the search. Hope this information helps.
     
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  44. weil-felix

    "But in this day and age, most women are capable of making their own success in life, and do not need to rely on "hubby" to make it for them. I myself have never met a girl who determines her mate soley based on his earning potential."

    You are very naive. There are plenty of gold digging women out there. We are rather insulated from these types being in medicine. Women outside of medicine see an MD as a ticket to relative wealth and prestige.

    Polk tells it how it is. Without any sugar coating or political correctness that freakin pervades colleges and medical schools.
     
  45. Spidey

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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by oldandtired:
    <strong> There are plenty of gold digging women out there.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">it's true. Obviously most of the gurlies on this board won't be the gold digger type, since they are working to become doctors themselves. One of my biggest fears is marrying a woman and believing that I'm in love only to wake up one morning and find that for one reason or another I've lost my money and now that the chips are down my wife no longer wants anything to do with me. You know when I get married I will probably have the wife sign a pre-nup.
     
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  46. Weil-Felix

    Weil-Felix Super Flying Squirrel
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    Oldandtired and Spidey,

    Gentlemen, it appears that you, like Dr. Polk, have both had some very bad experiences with women which have left you bitter and jaded. If that is indeed the case, perhaps you should reconsider your dating stratgies.

    Look, I know that there are all types in this world. Just like there are chauvenistic guys out there who treat every woman they meet like a piece of meat (and I can honestly say that I have met lots of them), I am sure that there are a few women out there who see dollar signs when they meet a professional man. But what really irritates me is when men make statements that suggest that every other woman out there just wants to get her grubby little hands on his money. What it really comes down to is a person's ability to make sensible choices about who they date/marry, NOT (as Dr. Polk implies) some inherent flaw in the personalities of females in general that men need to be warned about.

    What really got to me regarding Dr. Polk's take on this matter is the fact that he made it sound like every woman who marries a male doctor is in it for his future income. Obviously, this man had something very bad happen in his marriage, and he feels that this gives him license to make vast generalizations about an entire gender.
     
  47. LoneSEAL

    LoneSEAL Senior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Weil-Felix:
    <strong>
    What really got to me regarding Dr. Polk's take on this matter is the fact that he made it sound like every woman who marries a male doctor is in it for his future income. Obviously, this man had something very bad happen in his marriage, and he feels that this gives him license to make vast generalizations about an entire gender.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Dr. Polk's tone might be harsh, but you've got to realize 50 % of all marriages end in divorce. It doesn't seem farfetched that doctors want to protect the income that they have worked so long and hard for.
     
  48. Spidey

    Spidey Leorl's official stalker
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Weil-Felix:
    <strong>Oldandtired and Spidey,

    Gentlemen, it appears that you, like Dr. Polk, have both had some very bad experiences with women which have left you bitter and jaded.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Well I don't really consider myself bitter, maybe a little jaded though. I'm not saying that all women are gold diggers, but there are more than a few out there. If you don't believe that then I'd have to agree with oldandtired that you are very naive.
     
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  49. surg

    10+ Year Member

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    Just a note for those that PM'd me about the book, I think I returned almost all of them, but just as a blanket notice, that I sent my copy of the book out already and no longer have one.
     
  50. GuitarMan

    GuitarMan Guitarman for President
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    After this thread popped up the other day, I went to the library and found this book. I immediately recognized that I had seen this book about a year ago, and had hastily put it down after reading the introductory section about marriage and other social interactions. However, since it was being touted here as a "must read" I checked it out and have been reading through.

    This guy is very disgruntled. He probably has irritable bowel syndrome. His analyses of each specialty are based mostly on the current insurance reimbursement rates for common procedures. (Current meaning 1995 when the 4th edition was published.)

    I think this book might be usefull to people like me who are just starting medical school in that you get a small glimpse of which procedures are typical in various specialties. That is of course if you can ignore the pejorative tone that punctuates every sentence. It is also useful in providing humor. Humor because his various complaints are so overstated as to sound comical.

    Here are a couple gems:

    regarding neurology

    "This field enjoys the dubious rep of being the toughest intellectually to master: but its corpse already stinks. The smart student would take one whiff and walk away."

    or child neurology

    "Disorders of carbohydrate metabolism, glycogen storage, mucopolysaccharides, mucolipids, glycoproteins, gangliosides and serum lipoproteins--to name a few--concern child neurology. So do a broad spectrum of heredodegenerative disoders, congenital malformations and chromosome anomolies. The big words should wave you off."
     
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