Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The high schooler

A while ago, I came to work and one of the attendings Dr. Kenalog had a young man standing next to her. I initially thought was a new fellow or resident, but then decided he looked awfully young for that. I mean, I know residents all look really young, but this guy looked just a little too young.

Dr. Kenalog: "Dr. Fizzy, I'd like you to meet John, he's a high school student who's doing research in the neurology department."

Me: "Hi, John."

John: "Actually, it's Tom."

Me: "Oh. Hi, Tom."

Dr. Kenalog: "Right, so Tom is very enthusiastic. He's only 13 and he's already in 10th grade. Isn't that amazing? He skipped two grades. Which two grades did you skip?"

Tom: "Kindergarten and 5th grade."

Dr. Kenalog: "Also, he's never been to summer camp. He always works!"

Me: "Wow."

Dr. Kenalog: "Tom wants to be a neurologist, right?"

Tom: "Actually, I want to be a geriatric psychiatrist."

Me: "Gosh, that's awfully specific."

Tom: "Yeah."

Me: "You know, there's a really great geriatric psychiatrist who works here."

Tom: "Oh."

Me: "He might be able to talk to you about the field, if you're interested."

Tom: "Oh."

Dr. Kenalog: "Tom, I don't think we have any other patients right now. Do you want me to find you a computer to work on?"

Tom: "No, that's okay."

Me: "Do you have any questions you'd like to ask me? I recently finished training, so I could talk to you about getting into med school and how to prepare. Do you have questions?"

Tom: "No."

Me: "So I guess you're pretty confident about getting in, huh?"

Tom: "Yep."

Geez, I just wanted to smack the kid by the end. I mean, show a teensy bit of interest or enthusiasm or humility or SOMETHING. Dr. Kenalog and I were talking about him later... she thought he was way overconfident and I thought he was maybe a little shy. I've hypothesized that nobody who has skipped more than one grade can possibly be normal.


  1. He's likely been institutionalized by now.

  2. Check this kid out. He started med. school at 12!


  3. Poor kid. His parents are probably really pushy.

  4. Skipping grades early on can lead to self-esteem problems and depression. It's a terrible thing to do to a kid, but not everyone has the money to put the kid where s/he'll be challenged.

  5. My husband started college when he was 16 after skipping a few grades. He was, by his own admission, a bit of a jerk in college, but it wasn't intellectual arrogance as much as it was immature guy stuff.

    He's matured, but I still wouldn't call him normal. Fortunately, I wasn't looking for normal when I met him.

  6. Someone who academically excels but has no personality and is arrogant? Med school admissions committees are gonna drool over his application.....

  7. I feel like a med student ought to have more personality than your average computer programmer! I mean, this is one field where personality does kind of matter.

  8. AlexG: Wow. I have to feel a little sorry for that kid. I know we supposedly go to school to learn, but I think socialization is a large part of it, and I feel like he missed out. (Ditto with my friend Tom here.)

  9. If he answered "Yep" to your last question, then as someone who has worked with that age group before, I would say he is more arrogant than shy.

  10. He's only 13 and meeting a new person out of his age group. Personally, I wouldn't think too much of it.

  11. Good conversation...I like it very much

  12. You are totally right...I skipped two grades and I've never been normal. :)