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Is it acceptable to ask about "pimping" in an interview?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DirkN, Sep 23, 2014.

  1. DirkN

    DirkN 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2014
    Just had an interview this morning, and for whatever reason, when my interviewer asked me if I had any other questions, I decided to ask my interviewer if he experienced pimping as a resident and how he felt about it. He just finished his residency recently, so it was the first thought that came to my mind.

    Is "pimping" considered a taboo topic, or even a bad word in the medical field?
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  3. Ventric

    Ventric Physician 7+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    It is not taboo, it is not a bad word. You don't need to ask if it occurs, it does everywhere. It is a style of learning called the socratic method. It is a good way to pinpoint areas where you are lacking in knowledge.

    I am sure no one will mind if you ask. But it does occur everywhere and to everyone at some point. It can be intimidating being put on the spot but much of real life patient care is like that.

    Here are some other questions you might be better off asking:
    Where do most medical students live?
    Does the school support research/having grants/awards for it?
    How much time is there for step 1 studying?
    Do many students take time off for research/MPH/MBA/MA?
    noolsy, cs24, Aerus and 1 other person like this.
  4. Theafoni

    Theafoni True Blue 2+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2013
    I think I'm missing the joke.
  5. DirkN

    DirkN 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2014
    He was a faculty member who was recently hired and does not really have much interaction with students, so I doubt he would have been able to answer most of those questions except maybe the research one. Thanks for the advice though!
  6. accueil

    accueil 2+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Pimping=med school lingo for an attending asking a question of a student in front of a group to teach. Sounds like an effective way to teach but is given an ugly term that I don't think I will ever use
    Theafoni and DermViser like this.
  7. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2005
    Pimping is a term in medical education which refers to being quizzed by a superior in a group setting on minutia in a manner that is meant to humiliate.
  8. dirigo

    dirigo 2+ Year Member

    Apr 28, 2010
    So that's what the anesthesiologist was doing to me. I feel dirty now.
  9. Promethean

    Promethean Syncretist 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2014
    Western PA
    I was just discussing the origin of this word as used in medicine. My friend thinks that it has to do with the manner in which the questions are asked, that it is like another kind of pimp inquiring of his employees: "Where you been? Where my money? Is this all you brought me?" Only, in clinic it would be: "What structure is this? What is its function? Didn't you study?"

    I think this is as unlikely as the acronym Putting In My Place.

    Although both suggested origins were probably made up after the fact, they do give a sense of the meaning of the term.

    I looked into the etymology further and found that "pimp" has a German cognate: pimpf, which denotes an inexperienced little boy, which again could have some relation to an attending's perception of a student. Before it acquired its underworld meaning, the English term also referred to a low status servant.

    In any case, it isn't a nice or respectful word.
    prexies and Theafoni like this.
  10. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun! Administrator Physician 5+ Year Member

    May 15, 2011
    Except that now med students seem to label any questions from the attending/resident as pimping. I think we have the tendency to feel humiliated when we don't know the answer, especially when we get asked in front of the entire team, including fellow students, but I haven't had a superior who actually MEANT to humiliate. It's a hard method of teaching to get used to, but it keeps you on your feet
  11. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    I don't think I would have used the term pimping. I agree with the other poster that it happens, you may as well just accept it, and finally, yes. Formulate some better questions. Stay professional.
  12. mimelim

    mimelim Vascular Surgery Rocket Scientist Physician 5+ Year Member

    Sep 19, 2011
    I don't know about your specific institution, but at none of the 3 institutions I was at was that how the word was used.

    Pimping is when superiors ask questions. For the most part it is to teach by Socratic method.
    tiedyeddog, southernIM and Goro like this.
  13. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2009
    It's usually not used by faculty but more by residents/students: "I just got pimped by the attending". @Ismet is right, the pendulum has now swung to the other extreme where students label any questions asked by an attending have the intention to humiliate.
    southernIM and Goro like this.
  14. Goro

    Goro Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    No and no. I pimp my students all the time.

    Is "pimping" considered a taboo topic, or even a bad word in the medical field?[/QUOTE]

    Here's a little light reading for you kids on the subject, BTW. A Pubmed search on the subject pulls up 27 articles.

    and one more
    Teach Learn Med. 2005 Spring;17(2):184-91.
    Pimping: perspectives of 4th year medical students.
    Wear D1, Kokinova M, Keck-McNulty C, Aultman J.
    Author information

    A well-known phenomenon among U.S. medical students known as pimping, or the pedagogical device of questioning students in the clinical setting, receives virtually no attention in medical literature.

    Identifying 4th-year medical students' relevant knowledge and attitudes about pimping may help educators understand the range of beliefs about pimping and the role it plays in the socialization process into the medical community.

    Over a 2-month period, 11 fourth-year medical students at a Midwest medical school were asked 6 open-ended questions focusing on pimping as understood and experienced in the clinical setting. Investigators individually analyzed the interview data using qualitative methods to characterize students' experiences and recurring ideas and concepts.

    All students noted the hierarchical nature of pimping, viewing it as a tool for attendings or residents to assess students' levels of knowledge. Although some students experienced malignant pimping, humiliated by incessant questioning or questions inappropriate to their level of training, all the students in the sample were positive about pimping and its effectiveness as a pedagogical tool. Investigators found that location within the clinical setting determines how students define and understand the motives for pimping.

    Understanding how students define and experience the pimping phenomenon prepares medical educators to scrutinizepimping as a pedagogical tool and to provide the most effective and encouraging environment for students.

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
    tiedyeddog likes this.
  15. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    The fact that it is not referred to as the Socratic method, but rather as "pimping," says a great deal. This suggests to me that the Socratic method is being poorly used by some number of those in a position to lead and teach. . . and this smacks a bit of some of the problem spoken of in the Double Suicide thread.

    Just saying and considering. . .
  16. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    I would not bring this up as an interview question.

    As you can see from this thread, a large number of clinicians basically equate pimping with asking questions, usually in a clinical setting.

    So by asking this question, you're running the risk that an interviewer will perceive it as "I'm afraid of being asked questions or tested on my knowledge base"'s a useless question. if any interviewer tells you that his/her school does not use pimping, they are lying to you. There is no school that has a categorical ban on pimping, nor would any school have control over the vast number of teaching faculty and residents to be able to enforce such a ban. Every school will have people who pimp.

    There is often a negative connotation to the term pimping, and as @LizzyM said above, it is sometimes done (or at least perceived as) in order to belittle/establish the hierarchy.

    I don't really like pimping, and have tried to get away from it, because for the most part I think its a lazy teaching method. It can be done well, in a truly Socratic fashion, but that is harder than you think (my department chair is a master of it).

    That doesn't mean I won't ask questions of a student by any means, just that I'm trying actively to expand my teaching toolbox so to speak. Pimping as done by residents is often ineffective - they have a limited number of esoteric questions that they ask just about every student because it puts the discussion firmly within "their" knowledge base where they feel comfortable establishing their superiority over the student.
  17. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2005
    I do agree that many students believe any question that they can't answer is pimping, even when asked something that they *should* know.

    To me the Socratic method is more along the lines of walking a student through the questions they should be asking themselves to come use their knowledge to achieve a goal. "The patient is an 85 year old white male with chest pain and shortness of breath. What is in your differential? Does the fact that he has a history of malignant melanoma change your differential? What do you need to narrow that down? What are you going to order? "
    Keladry, jl lin and Goro like this.
  18. type12

    type12 5+ Year Member

    Jun 12, 2012
    this isn't an easy question
  19. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Aerus and type12 like this.

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