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Life experiences are relevant to medicine

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Legally Insane

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I wanted to pass along something that happened this week that reaffirms that our life experiences will indeed lead to us being able to provide better care to our patients. First, a quick synopsis of my situation. I am 53 years old and just completed my first week of clinical roations (IM) as an MSIII. I practiced law for over 25 years and raised three little boys into three young men. In prerounding and rounding this past week I was able to offer insights to my team regarding many relevant facts outside of the pure medical aspects of the situtation. At one point during rounds the attending looked at me and said, "Thank you so much for being on our team." That gesture meant so much more to me than nailing 10 straight pimping questions would (frankly I would take 2 in a row right now). I may not have as much time on the back end of my education to practice medicine and I may not be quite as mentally spry as I once was, but the things that I have learned along the way of living life are proving to be helpful in providing meaningful care to patients, and that fact is recognized by others. I hope this does not come across as bragging or putting down traditional students, because it is not meant to be so. Rather, I just wanted to encourage the older students to have faith that their seasoning is valuable in the end.

As a quick aside, if you find yourself mired in the basic sciences of the first two years and questioning whether it is worth it, do not despair. Clinical medicine is awesome (exhausting, yet awesome). Just keep pushing forward and God bless.
 

beBrave

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Great post and excellent insight. I've often wondered about the clinical perspective during rotations for nontraditional students. Sounds like you are having a blast.
 

bgrose517

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Thank you so much for posting this. I was just discussing with a friend last night about starting the process of becoming a doctor and the subject of "starting to practice medicine at 50" came up. So glad to see that you are feeling great about your decision to switch careers. how encouraging! :)
 

Nasrudin

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A sweet, warm demeanor and a sincere diligent approach to your work and responsibilities is what is required. This could be present in anyone at any age.

It is tempting to inflate the stock value of life experiences. Maybe, we need that to be true enough to bolster our self-esteem against the odds. Stories are good. Tell yourself whatever ones keep you going when nothing else will.

But you will discover at some point that a brilliant, warm hearted young colleague will teach you something you needed to learn or relearn. And their lack of volume of experience had little to do with anything important. And your volume of experience may not amount to much beyond a laugh or a moment of nostalgia when you remember not to sweat the small stuff.

That's something. But it's not what it's made out to be in these parts.

Back to the hinterlands.
 

petyr_baelish

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A sweet, warm demeanor and a sincere diligent approach to your work and responsibilities is what is required. This could be present in anyone at any age.

It is tempting to inflate the stock value of life experiences. Maybe, we need that to be true enough to bolster our self-esteem against the odds. Stories are good. Tell yourself whatever ones keep you going when nothing else will.

But you will discover at some point that a brilliant, warm hearted young colleague will teach you something you needed to learn or relearn. And their lack of volume of experience had little to do with anything important. And your volume of experience may not amount to much beyond a laugh or a moment of nostalgia when you remember not to sweat the small stuff.

That's something. But it's not what it's made out to be in these parts.

Back to the hinterlands.
It has been a while since I've seen such a classy disagreement.
 

Nasrudin

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I agree everyone has something to teach everyone else, but it is pure foolishness and arrogance to dismiss outright the experience of a man who has worked in a learned profession for longer than many of his classmates have been alive, who has successfully raised 3 children to adulthood, and gone through the many trials and tribulations of life that only come with time. It's also insulting, and a bit of projection, to insinuate that the poster is "inflating" his experience and attempting to "bolster" his self-esteem when he is merely posting encouragement.

Your average 26 year old doc, who has gone straight from crib to college to med school to residency, no matter how diligent or warm, does not have the gravitas to engender TRUST. A 53 year old man who has lived life and has willingly humbled himself not once, but twice to enter 2 different professions, immediately commands TRUST among patients that a 26 year old cannot.

Patients will more openly discuss personal health issues (i.e., depression, menopause, prostate cancer, mastectomy, erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer's, etc.) with a 53 year old man than a 26 year old, which leads to better patient care. And a 53 year old man can put his hand on the shoulder of a mother/wife/father/husband/child and say, "I'm sorry for your loss," and in a way that no eager beaver 26 year old can.

But enough hijacking of this thread. The original poster posted great words of encouragement for many us in this long process made longer by the fact this is our second time around the block.

In any event, it's good to see a fellow lawyer crossing over, feeling great, and making headway towards his goal. Lawyers are by far the most tenacious, hardest working, and smartest people I know. The economic climate is a blessing to the medical profession, because more and more of the best and brightest law students and lawyers are shifting over to medicine, and we bring a very different and broad mindset to professional practice than the typical med student/doc who tend to roll over for insurance or government.

Goodness. I feel like Carlito. Every time I think I'm out....

The OP was stating a premise from which impressionable and desperate minds might draw incisive conclusions about how to approach their applications and what strategy they choose to promote themselves. It is for this reason, and not merely that I think it's false, that I'm trying to intervene.

It's not all wrong. It's just not true either. Look at your overwhelming self-confidence as an example. Credibility is drawn up speculatively. And varies. If you can give the patient a feeling of being cared for and sense of competence then you're on equal footing with the next guy older or not.

It is precisely your self-confidence that could earn you ire from our overseers and from the guards at the entrance to this career.

Take it or leave it.

But out of the handful of older, and I mean significantly older, students in my class, we as a group vary in personality and ability to connect with patients to same degree as our younger counterparts. This is perhaps thrown off to a degree by some malevolent and creepy personalities in our small sample but my point stands because they probably sold the same bill of goods to the admissions people as is being sold here.

For every one of our assets there is a collateral liability.

It'd be foolish not to be cognizant of those. And to take an unerring self-regard to heart when about to enter a medieval guild system.
 
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Legally Insane

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I went out of my way to make the point that I only wanted to bring encouragement to those older students working so hard toward their goal. I do not feel like I inflated anything and I am shocked that my post stirred up controversy. My life experiences, of course, are part of who I am and I think they enhance my ability to be a good physician. Beyond that, I respectfully decline Nasrudin's bait because I feel there is nothing to debate. My post speaks for itself.
 

NuttyEngDude

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hi legally insane, i think your post is good. i did not mean to make it appear i was taking any sides in a debate (i try to avoid stuff like that). i am just happy to see nasrudin post in non-trad after a very long hiatus and hope he continues to do so.
 

beBrave

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@Legally Insane, as an older student who has a long road ahead your insight is beyond valuable and inspiring.


@Nasrudin, I'm not familiar with any of your post however please understand that after you work your entire life (especially in a field that it takes years to advance in) and then enter a field that is dominated by people young enough to be your kids or a younger sibling, it can feel like you are coming in with less of an advantage. All an older student has is his/her life experiences when starting this journey; its good to know that these experiences are beneficial in medicine.

I don't believe that Legally Insane was directing these post at traditional students (in-fact he actually points this out); rather it was meant to give us older guys some insight. People like people that they can relate to; this goes beyond simply smiling, nodding your head and displaying generic empathy. "A sweet, warm demeanor and a sincere diligent approach to your work and responsibilities" can just as easily come across as fake and plastic (during my time in clinical psychology, this was a big no no). Different situations call for different kinds of behavior, different facial expressions and different gestures; I have spent enough years (and money) studying behavior to know a thing or two about it however those with more life experience still know far more than I do. Dismissing an older Physicians life experience is just as bad as someone dismissing the capabilities of a young Physician.
 

Nasrudin

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If you think I'd waste my precious time "baiting" someone into a semantic game then both of you are accurate in your unfamiliarity with how nasrudin gets down.

I do tend to respond to ongoing conversations in my mind and on these forums, sometimes with only tiny impetus of the present or specific content in a post in doing so. More by habit and inclination than by design.

Yes. You're gonna be able to get down to a base level of understanding with more people quicker.

But, while that seems like it should be the goal and that by which we should be evaluated on more closely, it is not. Occasionally it can net you a good relationship with an attending who appreciates these abilities. But more often. Not.

You'll have attendings who are child like in experience to yours. And in those cases and in many, many others in medical training. Knowing a thing or two about a thing or two is as much a liability as a benefit.

I want to encourage you all. I do think we can bring something to a group of people in the same way that all mixed age, race, sex, orientation groups are stronger.

But I also mean to bring some counterpoint to an ongoing sentiment of exceptionalism here that I feel is neither strategic or helpful.

Admittedly, this may not have addressed the OP's topic specifically. But it does, even if uncomfortably, by implication and in context of the dominant theme of this forum.

Medicine is in many ways soulessly homegenizing. We all get gutted the same way. There is no difference in our ignorance from one stage to the next. Imagining otherwise is dangerous on different levels.

I wish I could say patient relations mattered more in how we get trained. But it does only occasionally. If you do it, you do it for yourself and your sense of duty. But not because it's a recognition of your abilities in the eyes of your evaluators or in the next application phase. Again, scores, grades, can he sing and dance...on and on.

I implore the OP to revisit this thread at the end of his 3rd year.

These are only my thoughts. Not meant to be discouraging in any way. If you take it that way, then you probably ought to.
 

QofQuimica

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Esquire said:
Your average 26 year old doc, who has gone straight from crib to college to med school to residency, no matter how diligent or warm, does not have the gravitas to engender TRUST. A 53 year old man who has lived life and has willingly humbled himself not once, but twice to enter 2 different professions, immediately commands TRUST among patients that a 26 year old cannot.

Patients will more openly discuss personal health issues (i.e., depression, menopause, prostate cancer, mastectomy, erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer's, etc.) with a 53 year old man than a 26 year old, which leads to better patient care. And a 53 year old man can put his hand on the shoulder of a mother/wife/father/husband/child and say, "I'm sorry for your loss," and in a way that no eager beaver 26 year old can.
We're getting off track from the OP's intent in starting this thread, and I hope s/he will forgive us for this. However, there is enough hubris in this response that I will still point out that a nontrad medical student in their short white coat awkwardly fumbling through a basic history and physical does not exactly inspire trust in anyone. And one thing you will come to find out as you progress further in your training is that patients aren't looking for comfort or help from a medical student, regardless of the student's age. They accept dealing with medical students because it's part and parcel of being cared for at a teaching hospital, or because they have no other options. But really what they want is to talk to the doctor. Having been both a nontrad med student and a nontrad resident, I will tell you that no amount of age inspires as much trust as walking into the room and introducing myself as "Dr. Quimica."

In any event, it's good to see a fellow lawyer crossing over, feeling great, and making headway towards his goal. Lawyers are by far the most tenacious, hardest working, and smartest people I know. The economic climate is a blessing to the medical profession, because more and more of the best and brightest law students and lawyers are shifting over to medicine, and we bring a very different and broad mindset to professional practice than the typical med student/doc who tend to roll over for insurance or government.
I don't know whether this is supposed to make me laugh or roll my eyes, but I guess it does a little of both. :eyebrow:

As for the OP's point that life experiences are relevant to practicing medicine, I don't think anyone would question that for a single second. Especially not this audience. Just as a thought, OP, people here might actually be more encouraged to hear that an older nontrad like you can hack the academic parts of med school. Because if you ask most nontrads what we most fear about medical training or practicing medicine, how many of us are seriously going to say, "Oh, I have the standardized exams and the pimping questions all down. What I'm *really* worried about is that my life experiences might not be relevant to being a good physician."

(For the record, I'm not mocking you or minimizing your non-academic insights. I'm just pointing out that this doesn't tend to be an area where most nontrads view ourselves as being deficient, as evidenced by Esquire's post above.)
 
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Nasrudin

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:laugh:

Speak for yourself Q. I never once, not ever, doubted my own gravitas as I waddled about in formation in the midst of a small group of incompetent penguins. Knocking over stuff. [email protected] up the sterile field. Mobbing a patients bedside. Gawking. Being the 4th person to ask you the same questions before 7 am. And just all around rocking **** out.

My chops were always crisp. Presentations and solos more glorious than Handel's Messiah and Hendrix at Woodstock combined.

You gotta put your hips into this sidetracking business.
 

Nasrudin

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There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding inherent in the mindset of the highly skilled and developed nontrad. Or just the nontrad looking to leverage life experience.

What is helpful in one's career and what would make you an attractive colleague or recruit is not always what is helpful in the slow, incremental climb up the clinical hierarchy.

As Q adroitly points out the clinician role is a function. For which you can either fulfill or you cannot. Until you can you are better for being less obtrusive in earning your clinical vantage point than demonstrating your powers and skills outside of medicine.

An older medical student with a lot of confidence, particularly one accustomed to a deal of respect has a long way to fall into the void of cluelessness which is beset upon you again and again and again until someone expects you to sign the scripts and take the pages. And even at that precipice, unimaginably lofty to your m1 beginnings you will fear failure and mistakes if your are wise and unlikely for a second to be preoccupied with former accomplishments pertaining not in the least to the succession of similar predicaments that one must traverse.

If you have an air of overconfidence as clerk you will be smacked down deliberately. And rightfully so. It's one of the only real, tangible functions of hierarchy in medicine.
 

calvnandhobbs68

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What's so absurd?

My former classmates & colleagues sit on the federal bench, advise the President, help investors raise & deploy capital and buy & sell corporations (including hospitals), litigate drug patents, enforce FDA regulations, etc. Suffice to say they impact the U.S. (and healthcare) much more than any doc. Compared to them, I'm no special snowflake because I lack their brainpower and work ethic. I didn't accomplish my goal to become one of the 250 partners at my firm who each pull in low to mid seven-figures, which is why I'm falling back on medicine to "just" be a doctor. :)

And yes, lawyers do approach their profession much differently than docs. We throw "midlevels" in jail the second they say that can practice law as well as any lawyer.

You realize the absurdity of using this comment to support the one you made about lawyers as a whole right? If you don't...well you must not have been a very good lawyer. Don't worry though, you'll learn about sampling bias in your first year epidemiology class.

Also your original comment had nothing to do about influencing the US healthcare system, try reading it again.
 

Pons Asinorum

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Lol at the barristers getting ripped to shreds in this argument, both in tone and content, while arguing the ineffable bad-assedness and superiority of professional argument-makers over physicians. I never...
 

SpesMeaInDeoEst

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Just when I thought I couldn't possibly dislike lawyers any more than I already did......
 

Legally Insane

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It amazes me how simple posts can get hijacked so far afield. I must disagree with the reply that makes the practice of law out to be some kind of noble pursuit. I loved law, but hated the practice of law because it became nothing more than money-grubbing. I met very few lawyers who were not looking for something else to do. Hating lawyers as a whole, however, is easy to say, but is narrow-minded and ignorant. One should judge people by their character and their heart, not by some general bias based on stereotypes. I just want to reiterate to all the nontrads out there -- the experiences you have earned have real value in the world of medicine. The struggle to get into and then get through medical school is hard, but worthwhile. Keep chasing your dreams.
 

SpesMeaInDeoEst

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It amazes me how simple posts can get hijacked so far afield. I must disagree with the reply that makes the practice of law out to be some kind of noble pursuit. I loved law, but hated the practice of law because it became nothing more than money-grubbing. I met very few lawyers who were not looking for something else to do. Hating lawyers as a whole, however, is easy to say, but is narrow-minded and ignorant. One should judge people by their character and their heart, not by some general bias based on stereotypes. I just want to reiterate to all the nontrads out there -- the experiences you have earned have real value in the world of medicine. The struggle to get into and then get through medical school is hard, but worthwhile. Keep chasing your dreams.

I should clarify, I don't just dislike lawyers as a rule. I also dislike used car salesmen, felons, pedophiles, drug company sales reps, door-to-door magazine sellers, Texans and.......oh, those who don't signal in traffic. I'm really narrow-minded and ignorant when it comes to any of those groups, but lawyers are always at the top of the list.
 

Nasrudin

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What amazes me is that people expect a multiple choice of responses in a free conversational space that amount to adulation, total agreement, or silence.

I would just like to reiterate that life experience is individually specific as to whether its a benefit or not. Bernie Madoff has lots of experience. Etc
 

CDI

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I get the whole maturity/trust thing...but if a 55 year old doctor walked into the room, Id expect ~30 years of MEDICAL knowledge and expertise. Id personally feel duped if they had just gotten out of residency a year or two ago. In this instance, and its a rare one, Id gladly take PA or Noctor with 15-20 years under their belt.
 

Legally Insane

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I get the whole maturity/trust thing...but if a 55 year old doctor walked into the room, Id expect ~30 years of MEDICAL knowledge and expertise. Id personally feel duped if they had just gotten out of residency a year or two ago. In this instance, and its a rare one, Id gladly take PA or Noctor with 15-20 years under their belt.

That is comparing apples and oranges. The issue is who you would prefer (or who a reasonable person would prefer, in case you are not reasonable) between a 25 year old and a 55 year old with an equal amount of medical training and experience? BTW, I am always clear with patients regarding my status as a medical student and no one is duped.
 

Nasrudin

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That is comparing apples and oranges. The issue is who you would prefer (or who a reasonable person would prefer, in case you are not reasonable) between a 25 year old and a 55 year old with an equal amount of medical training and experience? BTW, I am always clear with patients regarding my status as a medical student and no one is duped.

Ah then. There we are sir. As a more than reasonable person, I feel obliged to say--in your orange to orange comparison--the difference is not the age of the orange. Or how experienced it is. It is...after all...what it tastes like, that matters. Taste, like the experience a person has in the vibe of another is an idependent factor, from the year they exited their mother's womb.

People are not like scotch. Or wine. Some get cranky, self-centered, and more entitled the older they get.

You ever notice it takes little effort to argue the side of common sense?
 

Patassa

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Are Nasrudin and JourneyAgent the same person? Almost exact same tact and prose.
 
D

deleted307836

I've wondered that myself.

As have I. With all due respect to them both :)confused:), when your writing style is so distinctive there's really no point in changing usernames (that I'm aware of anyway).
 
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All an older student has is his/her life experiences when starting this journey; its good to know that these experiences are beneficial in medicine

So, as the guy who stands on the other side and inwardly cringes repeatedly as medical students flail away at my patients... I'm going to amend the above quote to be more in line with what I've seen...

All an older student has is his/her life experiences when starting this journey; its good to know that these experiences can be beneficial in medicine

As many of the commenters have posted, it's not having the experience that's helpful, it's what you do with it and how you convey it. I have seen both sides of both coins... very adroit seemingly pre-teen medical students who instantly develop rapport with patients, very brusque and abrasive non-traditional students who I have to remove from the room because the patient gets uncomfortable; and the opposites of both.

If you can find a way to make your experiences help you during the clinical years of your medical training, all the better. If you don't have 20+ years of adult life experiences, it doesn't necessarily put you at a disadvantage; you just rely on other things.
 

startoverat40

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think of your life experiences and maturity as an asset that can help you personally in getting through the marathon of medical education. don't brandish it as a sign of superiority over your younger cohorts. you may be able to handle stress, conflict, miscommunication, etc better, and those skills will make it easier for you to endure the long path, but it doesn't substitute for medical knowledge and skills. older age might actually make it harder to learn and retain knowledge, or to learn and practice new skills. so we older students actually have to work even harder to maybe be as good as our younger colleagues.
 
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