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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by zook, Dec 7, 2005.

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  1. zook

    zook Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 9, 2005
    I interviewed recently at a school where I asked my interviewer how third and fourth year students were protected from scutwork (I think I actually got that question from reading SDN). I further clarified my definition of scutwork by saying any "menial" jobs that would not be worthwhile for a med student to do. She came back at me telling me she was surprised at my concern over the amount of scutwork given my previous experiences. She said that whether we were running specimens to a lab (perhaps speeding up the testing) or doing any "dirty" work, it was for the benefit of the patient, so she thought that if we were truly there for the patients, we wouldn't mind doing even the simplest tasks, regardless of our qualifications of lack thereof. I went on for the next minute or so trying to think of an example of scutwork that doesn't really help the patient in any way, but I really couldn't. Can any of you?

    Is scutwork really that bad if it's all for the benefit of the patient? Reading the forum, scutwork seems to be evil or a waste of time in the mind of most of the people here. This idea kind of goes back to an earlier post where someone quit their job and told off their supervisor because they thought they were "above" a certain job or duty. Are we really "above" scutwork or should we suck it up and do whatever is asked of us (even if we're paying thousands of dollars and have the training to perform more complex tasks)? At the same time, I think that scutwork probably has limited educational value (besides teaching us humility) and does not help our training as a physician - I should've thought of this at the interview, but only thought of this afterwards. So is there any value (service, social, educational, etc) in scutwork or should we view it with utter disdain as most people seem to do? I'm sure the answer to this question will depend on the situation as well, but feel free to find any situation to make your point - even if it renders this debate kind of pointless.
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  3. medicalbound

    medicalbound Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    I think that *when* we become scutmonkeys, we should just do what is expected of us, do it well, and move on. If you have clinical skills, be assertive and contribute what you can. Hopefully, the tasks requested of you will become more pertinent quickly, but that is up to you and how you handle yourself as a med student. I'm guessing that all MSIIIs start out at the same level and not based on past clinical experiences or knowledge. Your place in the pecking order will be determined only by your actions. When we get to our clinical years, we have zero credibility to even suggest that we are above menial jobs, which I think would be received as whining. And as I've taught my 4 year old: "whining is yucky." :)
  4. caffeine37

    caffeine37 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 3, 2005
    a cafe
    I feel like there is a difference between doing a paid job well (menial work) and the experience of getting clinical exposure that you are *paying for* as a medical student. lots of scut work helps the patient, but it doesnt necessarily train you to be a better clinician
  5. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier 7+ Year Member

    May 26, 2004
    That's the point. Which is ultimately helping the patients more - doing menial labor that a nurse's aid or a transporter or a file clerk could do more efficiently or actually learning how to be a physician? It helps the hospital, because you're paying them to be a combination nurse's aid, transporter, and file clerk, rather than them having to pay for those positions.
  6. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I come out of the fire service, where no one angling for a job would dare to suggest they were tired of scutwork. New people do scutwork; it's one of the universals of the working world. Even US Senators, arguable the most august elected body in the world, start out as junior members on the Sub-commitee for Metric Roadsigns, or suchlike.

    Don't complain. For the love of God, DON'T COMPLAIN. You love scutwork. You want to help in any way you can. That is the game. They are testing your enthusiasm. They are testing your commitment. And they are revenging themselves for the scutwork they had to do. That's the world we live in.

    So don't ask the Adcom about scutwork; you couldn't believe what they said anyway. Ask the students. How much scutwork students do is one of those hallowed traditions that won't change much from year to year. The amount of scutwork the students do is about how much you will do.

    And remember, YOU LOVE SCUTWORK! Once you are actually doing it, you will discover all the ways to minimize it, get it over with or avoid it altogether, which is strange, because YOU LOVE SCUTWORK!
  7. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier 7+ Year Member

    May 26, 2004
    There you have the pragmatic answer :laugh:
  8. rugtrousers

    rugtrousers Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 2, 2004
    A lot of "menial" tasks are necessary to patient care and you'll end up doing them because you want to be helpful. That said, a tactful way to ask about the scutwork question is to ask the faculty about the hospital's ancillary services - how much support there is in terms of patient transport, nursing, social work and placement after discharge. Ask the med students about scut, especially scut that has NOTHING to do with patient care, like making copies for the team or going to get coffee.
  9. isobel

    isobel Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    the docs i work with complain about residents that come from hospitals where they had to do no scutwork. they complain that the residents don't know how to do the most basic things (i.e. draw blood).
  10. Tigerstang

    Tigerstang Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Washington, DC
    I know of several firms in the field in which I work (finance) that will fire someone the first time they say they are "above" a certain task.

    Get off your goddamn high horse and realize that everyone has to do things they don't like some times--especially when you're just beginning your career. Whether it's for the benefit of the patient is immaterial - having an attitude that you are too good for something is the best way to an early, involuntary retirement.
  11. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2002
    Wild west of Mistytown
    The only time it is bad is when its all scutwork and no teaching. You are not there for scut work ... you are there to learn. There is a limited educational value in scutwork during clinical years when you have 4 weeks at a rotation to learn the necessary information for your exam afterwards. With that said, I'd rather know how everything (and everyone) works rather than just the role of the "doctor" therefore you can navigate through the system with more efficency.

    Don't be fooled, its an accurate and valid question to wonder how much scutwork is out there because you are paying for an education. While some of those tasks I believe are necessary, if you are treated strictly as a nurse's aide then I have ot wonder what the educational value is in that.
  12. Mr. Freeze

    Mr. Freeze Not right. (in the head) 10+ Year Member

    This reminds me of the commercial where the lady is talking to the guy in the suit about how to do something on the computer (how's that for ambiguity), and he's like "Ummm, yeah. I have an MBA." "Oh. I guess I will have to explain it to you then."
  13. pseudoknot

    pseudoknot Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

    Ah, you've been reading Application process: Looking back as a 4th year. It's an interesting thread, but most of his suggested questions are pretty useless in my experience. Faculty interviewers generally have no idea about the med student experience, and the only students you meet are first and second years, who don't know anything about the clinical rotations. (I've only been to one school where I met third years.) Also, I think a lot of that stuff will depend more on the particular hospital, rotation, and even team that you're on, than the actual school (but this part is speculation based on hearsay, not personal experience).
  14. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004

    Sounds like you really stepped in it. As a med student, you know nothing, and thus you are given jobs appropriate for that level of knowledge. If you do well at them, and if you are lucky, you will sometimes get less mind numbing jobs. The danger with suggesting that you are above certain tasks is three fold (1) it suggests an arrogance about yourself and what you feel an appropriate level of task for you should be. Truth of the matter is that, for at least a while, you know less about real clinical medicine than the support staff, no matter what grades you may have been getting. (2) it bucks the ranks to suggest that you don't want to do something your boss is assigning you to do. And (3) by suggesting that you feel a certain task is menial, or scut, you are effectively demeaning the person you feel should actually be doing it. You will be working with support staff of various levels throughout your career, and really shouldn't adopt a holier than thou attitude about their tasks.
    While I'm sure you didn't mean anything by it, it was a bad question. The right way to ask that kind of question is whether there is the opportunity for medical students to get more responsibility or have a bigger role in procedures once they have proven themselves.
  15. LizzyM

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

    Mar 7, 2005
    This reminds me of a resident who was loathed by the support staff after one little incident.

    He was "John Carter" of ER in terms of family money, servants (plural), prep-school, etc. He told the LPN in the clinic that there were no band-aids in the exam room where he'd just seen a patient. She was running around with more work than any one woman could handle and he didn't have more to do so she handed him a box of band-aids and asked him to stock all of the exam rooms. You would have thought he'd been asked to clean up a mess.

    On the other hand, the program had a full professor and a highly regarded physician/teacher who knew how to run the copier and make coffee and was not above doing either one if he was the first one in in the morning. :love:
  16. zook

    zook Member 5+ Year Member

    Nov 9, 2005
    Thanks, I like how you phrased your questioning. I don't consider myself above any task whatsoever (I work with young, disabled children so I get my fair share of cleaning up sh*t, literally). I actually don't mind jobs where I can get my hands dirty or have to perform my share of menial task, because then, I can better appreciate the times when I'm NOT getting dirty. I think it's a good way to stay grounded and realize that 99% of the world is not in the fortunate position that we are. I think I have a greater appreciation for people who have to perform ONLY the dirty service jobs that they may be stuck in, for whatever reason. But like others have said, in the long run, it serves society better if we're allowed to perform more educationally beneficial duties. At the same time, I guess scutwork is a fact of life, no matter where you go.

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