The Great Medical School Myth (EXPOSED)

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - DO' started by SawBones, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. SawBones

    SawBones Transcendentalist
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    This is a really a reply to the Carribbean vs. DO thread, but it is somewhat off-topic and will probably start some debate (complete with weak arguments, name calling and other meaningless premedical dribble). Neverthess, this is something that every premedical student on this forum will realize, at some point in their career (some earlier than others).

    In reading the Carribbean vs. DO school debate, I noticed that many members of this forum subscribe to The Great Medical School Myth. There is this great myth that medicine is "Oh So Hard!!" and that only certain people can accomplish this and, moreover, only certain schools are capable of adequately teaching medicine. This myth is utter bunk, boys and girls.

    Medicine is not as hard to teach as, say, a PhD program in practically any subject. PhD programs require faculty that are able to facilitate students in thinking on their own and developing novel, new ideas. Medical education doesn't even come close to this! Regardless of the school you attend, general medical education (meaning exclusion of MD/PhD and DO/PhD programs) emphasize memorization over novel, original thinking. Medicine is voluminous, but not especially difficult. Pure physiology, pure pharmacology, pure microbiology, or pure histology are hundreds of times more difficult to comprehend than learning just medical physiology, medical pharmacology, medical microbiology, or medical histology -- all of which are just watered-down versions of their pure disciplines.

    Few medical students will ever admit to the above. For some, it is because they want people to believe that they are amazing intellectuals; but mostly it is because most medical students have never been to graduate school and therefore have no appreciation of the level of difficulty of most other PhD disciplines. For those of us who have been to graduate school AND medical school, we cannot deny the truth: that medical school, while voluminous in nature, is not especially intellectual nor is medical knowledge especially difficult to attain.

    In summary, providing that a medical student has adequate professors and adequate exposure to a variety of pathology, any medical school whether in the states or abroad will suffice. Ultimately, however, the competence of a physician will be determined solely by the determination and dedication of the individual; not by the name their school, their professors, or the degree they possess.
     
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  3. metsn02

    metsn02 Senior Member

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    I had to copy this post one more time because it is so accurate. Once again Sawbones, you come through with a much needed dose of reality for this message board. One of the striking things I noticed when I first found this site is the amount of intellectual elitism espoused by so many pre-meds. I can remember countless posts in the pre-allo section last year about how graduate school and PhD's were somehow inferior to med students and physicians. As an undergrad I spent three years doing research in a behavioral neuroscience laboratory. Comparing the intellectual challenges of developing an experimental design, consulting the current bank of literature, testing that design on animal models, and then submitting for publication your findings through interpretation of the data is infinitely more difficult than anything I have experienced as a first year med student.

    great post saw
     
  4. rpames

    rpames Optometrist

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    I agree, I have said this many times, "It is not the smart ones that go to medical school, it is the ambitious ones. Those that go to graduate school (PhD), are the smart and ambitious ones." That's why I'm pursuing the medical route.:D
     
  5. kumar28

    kumar28 Senior Member

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    Good thread man, I agree completely.


    Peace
     
  6. H0mersimps0n

    H0mersimps0n HMO CRUSHER

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    Well I'm no MD, DO or PhD but I've been in a lab for 5 years and worked closely with a bunch of what I consider to be genius neuroscientists. While I somewhat agree with what you said, I have to say that a better comparison if how things are is:

    Pure physiology, pure pharmacology, pure microbiology, or pure histology are hundreds of times more difficult to comprehend than learning medical physiology, medical pharmacology, medical microbiology, AND medical histology -- all of which are just watered-down versions of their pure disciplines.

    I added the AND which I believe makes the statement more true and more disagreeable. I'm not sure if you were implying this or not but it seems like you think that graduate students/studies involve comprehensive attention to each and every field of science. This is very not true. While neuroscience phd's/students may have an "understanding" of physics, chemistry, biology, etc, in some cases nothing more than the basics are necessary to perform their very narrowed tasks/research (a focus or concentration if you will). I think the hardest part of being a physician will be is not learning the material (I agree memorization is trivial), but hopefully taking your diagnosis beyond selecting from cases you've seen before to something of the effect of using the comprehensive "medical" phys, pharm, etc to really understand what is happening in the body and best treat the problem (OMM, medication).

    For both fields equally, IMO, the greatest challenge is that of application of knowledge. In neither case is it to anyone's advantage to obtain copious amounts of information if the grad/med student can't use that knowledge. So then what is in major difference?

    Generalizations about research are very dangerous, I've seen all kinds of different research go on (being at an institute VERY dedicated to research), and won't make generalizations but I hope you understand my points...

    I think you knowingly placed this argument in the form of *subject* vs *subject* to rattle some nerves but in the grand scheme of things we all need blacksmiths and we all need shoemakers- to each his own.
     
  7. luckystar

    luckystar pooped

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    That's a pretty true post, Sawbones. My PI is a super genius and so are most of the scientists, post-docs, and grad students around the labs where I work. I think that what you choose to go into is a personal choice that nobody else should attempt to make for you. However, I do think that the degree of difficulty is subjective, as it's a lot easier doing what you like to do than something where you're going to be miserable most of the time. Some people spend years just tweaking their experimental conditions, trying to get things just right, and they never complain because their research is their passion. Without scientific research, medicine would not be very far along, and the knowledge that comes out of research would not be very useful if there weren't any outlets through which it can be applied. Physicians need to be more well-rounded in the sense that they need to be able to retain and regurgitate large amounts of information, personable enough to communicate and deal with patients, and who are comfortable with working in a team. Not intending to give advice or make generalizations, but I think your personality should have a lot to do with what career path you take.
     
  8. San_Juan_Sun

    San_Juan_Sun Professor of Life

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    Thomas Magnum, PI? Sure, he smarter than Rick, or TJ, but I always thought that Higgins was the genius of the group. :)

    Back to the topic: many of my neighbors (I live in married student housing) are in Masters or PhD programs. I am continually amazed at these people. Without question, many, many of them could make excellent physicians, if they wanted to. To each his own.

    BTW, I don't think Sawbones' post will cause that much debate. Premeds (I hate that term) might ignorantly argue themslves into a superiority tizzy, but nothing silences dark stupidity like luminous truth. Nice post, Bones.
     
  9. luckystar

    luckystar pooped

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    I hope you're being sarcastic!!! ;)
     
  10. rbassdo

    rbassdo newly hindu

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    Nice thought process SawBones. I agree with much of what you said. My lone original comment is this:

    When a doctor is done with his/her training, he/she has the huge responsibility of applying what was learned to treating human beings. That's a huge responsibility. That's a lot of pressure! I've heard of students staying away from specialties that involve direct patient care because they were too concerned about harming someone. Although scientists to TONS AND TONS of good for society, when they make a mistake with a lab rat, it's probably easier for most of them to move on. I know this is a simple-minded point, but I think it's a good one. The caliber of pressure and responsibility that a medical doctor experiences on a daily basis is not in the job description of most scientists. Plus...what scientist has to take call on the weekends or at 3 in the morning!
     
  11. kpax18

    kpax18 almost there

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    I echo the above post. While it is less "hard science" in medicine compare to the pure sciences due to the differences in field of concentration, medical science does deal with human lives. It requires a lot of on site application and decision making and leave little room for trial and error.
    As one of the postdocs in my lab mentioned, the reason that he got out of clinical medicine is the fact that it would probably be easier to handle cells than a human body.
    Above all, good thread, I like what it was said about being a good physician lies within the heart of the individual....
     
  12. Toejam

    Toejam Terminal Student

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    I can agree, for the most part, except for one specialty:

    Radiology.

    These people are scary brilliant.
     
  13. rbassdo

    rbassdo newly hindu

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    Of course not all labs are the same. That's why I used generalizations in my previous quote. Hat's off to hard science - for sure.

    I too can imagine that some clinical psychologists get calls in the night. I thought we were talking about "hard" science though. As long as we're expanding...I used to work 3rd shift at the hospital...hats off to me!!!
     
  14. Green912

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    I agree that getting a PhD and DO/MD are two totally different things, but the term "hard" is as relative as any other descriptive term. Designing your own experiments and wandering into uncharted scientific territory is without a doubt hard. As is trying to grasp and comprehend the tidal wave of medical fact heading toward you. The focus of training a DO isn't to make them an expert in any field, but rather to give them some practical and functional knowledge to use everyday. Something I'm sure we all realize.

    Being an applicant myself, I've found some of sawbones' comments to be backed up by current MS1's and II's. In some past thread they were asked about the difficulty of their course load, and a suprising number of them (at least to me) said it wasn't as difficult as people make it out to be. Again, I don't assume the problem is in the content, but rather in the insane amount of material.

    It's important to turn out thinking and problem solving doctors instead of walking trivia games. To that end I applaud the efforts of schools that are incorporating "alternative learning paths" to encourage individual problem solving. In that sense, maybe we'll get closer to the PhD's focus of being an active investigator.

    As for students touting their superior intellect, I've certainly seen that in action at my university, and will no doubt see it at med-school. The black hole of ego's are a hard thing to escape. :(
     
  15. rbassdo

    rbassdo newly hindu

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    As for students touting their superior intellect, I've certainly seen that in action at my university, and will no doubt see it at med-school. The black hole of ego's are a hard thing to escape. :( [/B][/QUOTE]


    True that...True that. OH will you see it!!! It's all good, though.
     
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  17. group_theory

    group_theory EX-TER-MIN-ATE!'
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    What most people (especially premeds) don't understand is that

    MD/DO/JD/OD/DPM/PharmD are professional degrees. They are required to enter the field.

    A PhD is an academic degree. In fact, it is the highest academic degree available.

    When I tell people that a PhD is the highest academic degree, people often say "well, what about an MD?" and I have to explain to them that they are comparing apples and oranges - MDs are professional degrees and PhDs are academic degrees (like Masters, Bachelors, and Associates)

    Anyway, my PI is a PhD. Sadly however, I think he is the only pure PhD in our department. The other PIs in our department are MD-PhD or MDs.

    I just find it funny that during interviews (read the pre-allopathic forums) - premeds will go "are you a MD or PhD?" and respond upon hearing the information with "oh - just a PhD"

    PhD programs are difficult as heck - they range from 3 years to infinity. Leaving a PhD program (w/ your degree) is also hard - you have to convince a committee and your advisor that you deserve to leave w/ a diploma (instead of quitting and getting a Masters automatically). In med school, just pass all your courses/clinicals and pass your boards, and you graduate with your doctorate.

    Just my 2 pennies.

    Group_theory (today's point group is C3V - like NH3)
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  18. oceandocDO

    oceandocDO Senior Member

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    Yeah, this is definitely an apples an oranges argument. There's absolutely no way to compare these fields, both have different thought processes and different requirements. Medicine has a very emotional burden, one that cant be quantified by IQ, board score, or numbers of times published. Medicine requires much more lateral thinking and integrated problem solving. PhDs require more vertical thinking and theory development. PhDs are very inner-driven, for what they do often gains little public thanks or acknowldegement. A PhD can work 20 years on a theory of a single enzyme to have his/her entire career nullified by a new theory in year 21. That's a heavy burden to bear as well. Most of the famous PhDs of history didnt become famous until after their dead! That's another price to pay. Hence, both professions have challenges and reward, but they're on 2 separate tracks.

    I'm not so sure why we need to constantly say who's smarter, who's better, who's dad can beat up who's dad, etc. I agree with one thing of the original poster, medical school, like anything in life, is what you make of it. There's only so much that fits on a spoon, you're responsible for the rest.
     

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