The most bullshit rotation I ever did in med school was Sleep Medicine. A true budding physiatrist, I selected most of my fourth year electives based on which ones had zero call and the shortest hours.
Maybe other Sleep Medicine rotations are really hardcore, but this one wasn’t. Every new patient evaluation went something like this:
Patient: “I’m having trouble with my sleep…” [describes sleep problems]
Sleep fellow: “OK, let’s schedule you for a sleep study.”
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it.
Anyway, I had been on the rotation a couple of weeks, and was seeing a new patient and was about to present the patient to one of the attendings, Dr. Roberts, after having already presented the patient to the Sleep Fellow, Scott. When Scott told Dr. Roberts I would be presenting, she seemed surprised.
“You saw the patient yourself?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
She gave me a disapproving look. "Don't you think Scott maybe knows a little more than you and maybe you could learn something from watching him ask questions?"
Because I am a huge wuss, I said, "Yeah, maybe."
But what I was really thinking was that this was the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my entire life. For starters, I think active learning is the best kind of learning. Any med student will tell you that watching interview after interview is boring as hell. This way I got to ask my own questions and Scott could point out to me the things I should have asked. If Dr. Roberts were right, then why do they ever assign patients to med students? Why don’t they just have med students observe for two years straight, then go release them into practice, without having actually done anything themselves? The reason is because you learn best by doing.
This reminds me, of course, of another great quote from an attending I had during residency, who was very overprotective of his patients and often made us just stand in the corner and watch procedures. He once said to me, “I don’t like residents learning on my patients.” That’s great… so what are you doing as an attending in a teaching program?