Sunday, January 27, 2008

Big Deal, I'm Very Professional

As you probably know, a huge portion of your grades in 3rd year medical school are based on evaluations. Everyone evaluates you; the interns, the residents, the fellows, the attendings--I've even had a rotation where a nurse coordinator evaluated me. Sometimes, it's nice to get evaluated, because it gives you an ego boost, plus some constructive things to work on. Sometimes it's crappy to get evaluated, because they give you a mediocre review for no apparent reason with nothing constructive (or even non-constructive) to work on.

For example, a friend of mine, who is brilliant plus a super great and hard-working guy with good social skills, got a very average evaluation from one of his attendings; you know, a "meets expectations" kind of thing. The attending told him, "You've been great, but I expect you to be great." So, my friend asked the attending, "What else could I have done to get an excellent evaluation?" And he said, "Nothing, really. Like I said, I expect you to be great, so you met my expectations." Awesome motivator, no?

The other kind of evaluation you can get is super lame because you are forced to get it from someone who basically works with you for five minutes. This happens often, because as a 3rd year medical student, you typically work almost exclusively with interns and residents, but you are required to get a certain number of evaluations from attendings, so you are forced to feel like a total wonk asking a bigwig to evaluate you when they couldn't say for sure that you don't work for food services.

Alright, I've gotten off topic here. What I wanted to write about were another type of evaluation that we have to do at our school: "Professionalism Evaluations". Believe me, they are as stupid as they sound.

Essentially, they are to try and make sure that you aren't some kind of a deranged weirdo with bad personal hygiene who is liable to get everyone on the team sued. The biggest reason that I think these are stupid is that they clearly don't work, as evidenced by a student I worked with a few rotations ago who was so wildly inappropriate that his "unprofessional behavior" actually crossed the line into felony (sadly, I am not kidding) and yet he is, as far as I know, still a student here.

However, they are terribly amusing to read. Whereas most evaluations are set up so that the boxes for "Best Ever Student Whom I Would Be Proud To Call Son/Daughter" are on the far right, and the boxes for "Should Consider Alternative Life Choice, Like Prison" are on the far left. However, on the Professionalism Evaluations, the good boxes--the only ones you want checked--are in the middle, and to either side there is badness to opposite extremes.

For example, one middle box is something like "Personal Appearance is Professional", and to the far left is "Looks like Pigpen From The Peanuts, with the Dirt Swirls and Everything" and to the far right is "Looks Like a Ho". Another is something like "Displays Appropriate Empathy", with "Spit on No Fewer than Three Patients" to the left and "Often Attempts to Hump Patients" to the right.

This setup has led to some hilarious, although unfortunate, evals where the attending, not having the time to read the ten zillionth eval form thrust at them by a 3rd year, tries to do the nice thing and check all the way down the right hand side--normally the side of honors, now the side of Axis II Personality Disorders.

In any case, it is clear that at some point some big, important committee told my school that professionalism is a Big Deal and they needed a Formal System in Place to Evaluate the Living *#$& out of us. Well, hats off to you, there, University. I could only be happier if you started evaluating how well I endure being evaluated.

Oh, wait... you already do that.


Old MD Girl said...

So THAT'S how they concluded all med students looked like prostitutes (and thus ran a NY Times article on the subject). Fantastic.

docmama said...

i laughed so hard i might have peed a little.
you know how crazy psycho med student probably got a good professionalism eval on that last rotation? that was the one where they had us fill out that form about OURSELVES, and of course according to him he is the best doctor on the team (based on a scientific random sampling of "his patients") - nevermind the whole not being a doctor yet thing. Plus I think the attendings are a little afraid of him.