Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekly Whine: Med School = JHS?

Sometimes in med school, it takes a little bit of time to find your niche, to find a group of friends that you click with. I had some friends I made in med school that I absolutely loved. But before that happened, I made “friends” with two girls named Tina and Roberta (not quite their real names).

I’m not sure how I made friends with them, other that we were all in the same place at the same time and struck up a conversation. Tina was one of those genuinely sweet girls who was very hard not to like. Roberta’s favorite saying was, “I’m not here to make friends.” So basically, she was the reality show bitch. Although at the same time, she complained that she always hung out with the same people (me and Tina) and it was lame and she wanted other friends. But she was intelligent and I respected that, and I’m not that outgoing, so it was easier to just be friends with them.

Tina and Roberta had a special bond though that they formed because Tina didn’t have a car at first, so Roberta chauffeured her around everywhere. Also, they both had long distance boyfriends in the same city. It was very obvious that they were extremely tight, and I was just a third person who hung out with them.

The three of us were lab partners, plus one other guy. Tina was having roommate issues, in that her roommates were the “popular” kids in the class (does this sound like junior high school yet?) and they were constantly making plans with each other and not inviting her, and basically making her feel unwanted in her own house. Ironically, she would then turn around and make plans to study with Roberta right in front of me, and not invite me.

I remember one particular night when Tina told me she was thinking about going to the anatomy lab on a Saturday night to study right before an exam. I told her if she did that, she should give me a call and we’d go together. She eagerly agreed. As it turned out, she never called me, then on Monday, she mentioned that she had been studying at the anatomy lab on Saturday night with Roberta. I felt kind of hurt about that. But I’m not into confrontations, so I didn’t say anything.

After I got past the initial couple of months of being overwhelmed by med school, I realized I needed to make new friends. Luckily, as I said, there were other nice people in my class. And the new friends I made were way more fun than a girl whose motto is she’s not in med school to make friends.

However, our “friendship” couldn’t just dissolve quietly. It had to explode in a really public way.

One weekend right before a big anatomy exam, Tina and Roberta made plans to meet up with a TA named Maria to go over material in the lab. I think I was standing there so they were forced to tell me about it and invite me. I remember prior to going over to the lab, I called them to ask if they wanted to go over together since Roberta was in the same dorm as me, and Roberta told me that she was waiting for Maria to call her (for some reason).

Anyway, it was getting late, so I eventually went over to the lab by myself. After entering the lab and getting gloved up, I noticed Maria was already there. She was in the middle of teaching a bunch of other med students and I kind of tagged along for the remaining 20-30 minutes she was there. Then Maria said she had to be somewhere and she left.

Over an hour later, Roberta and Tina showed up at the lab and Roberta was LIVID. “You knew we were waiting for Maria to call us!” she said accusingly. “Why didn’t you call me to let me know she was here?”

I suppose it was a reasonable question, but I didn’t have a cell phone (this was back in the olden days and I was always a few years behind on technology) and I was already dirty from the lab and I didn’t even know her number offhand. So it wasn’t like it was easy for me to call her. I just assumed they would be heading to the lab soon, like I did. It was Maria's responsibility to call them, not mine. Roberta didn't even want to invite me along in the first place and now she was pissed that I hadn't gone out of my way for her.

At first, I tried to apologize and explain that I didn’t have a cell phone, but Roberta pointed out that there was some public phone I could have used in the med student lounge. She basically told me it was really bitchy that I hadn’t called them.

Finally, I said, “Well, how come you didn’t call me that night you two were studying in the lab?”

Tina got this “oh god” look on her face, but Roberta shot back with, “What does that have to do with this? Why are you bringing that up now??”

Anyway, I don’t do well with confrontations. So long story short, I left the anatomy lab crying.

Tina ran out after me. She finally confessed that Roberta had been explicitly telling her not to invite me to study sessions for the last two months because she didn’t like studying with me. I guess she assumed that I intentionally tried to ditch her since she had been doing the same to me.

Things were kind of awkward after that. We all apologized and were back on speaking terms, but I wasn’t friends with Roberta after that. I sort of remained friends with Tina, because I do think she was a nice person, but it was really never the same. And now, ten years later, I get a bad taste in my mouth when I think about either of them.


  1. Ugh. Thanks for bringing back memories of first and second year.

  2. Believe me, this kind of things happen in all corners of the world...And to say that we'll all become doctors...haiz

  3. So is this behavior typical in med school?

    As I was rereading this story and reliving the pain, there are still parts of me that worry that I was to blame. Like maybe I should have figured out some way to contact Roberta. Or maybe I am actually really difficult to study with.... because I remembered some other guy in another large study group who vetoed me being there. Then again, I had a few other other friends who counted on studying with me and would get really upset if I couldn't make it for some reason.

  4. Yes. This is so med school. Sometimes it's like being back in middle or high school, except with less sleep. One of the people in my class hasapparently decided that writing really hurtful things on our anonymous peer reviews is a good idea. Whoever it is has done it twice now, and I have no idea who it is.

  5. Everything is fair in love and lab. ;)

  6. Coming from a complete outsider perspective of being the only non-medical student taking gross anatomy I got to see all the strange and juvenile stuff happen. Since I wasn't one of "them" I was never really welcome in any of their study groups. Sad part is, when I go back in the fall, it's going to be the exact opposite. I will have many many "friends" who want me to teach them everything about anatomy and embryo since I've taught the classes for the past 2 years. Sigh....

  7. I read the post and the comments. And I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Luckily, I had a friend from high school with me in med school who went through all this with me.

  8. Ahahah. SO true. It's the exact same thing all the world over. It got to the point in my class where, without looking, I could predict where people were siting in lecture because they would always sit with the exact same people in the exact same place.

  9. I am dealing with the same BS right now. Study groups are just another necessary house of cards. When they work, they really help you succeed. When they collapse, you just stand there confused looking at the mess wondering what went wrong.

  10. Junior high is EVERYWHERE....

  11. I am a mature student finishing up a medical office administration course. At 49, I am, of course, one of the oldest people in the course. Several other women are about the same age as me, the rest are all in their 20's. Ironically, the same sort of high-school clique crap was going on our class -- and it wasn't the young people, it was my middle-aged counterparts!

  12. Medical school was full of nerds who had spent their lives being bullied and finally got some status of their own. Of course they used it to immediately bully others. Then came residency; lather, rinse, repeat.
    Medicine is a profession rife with backstabbing and bullying. The only saving grace is that the vast majority of medical people are terrified of conflict, so those of us who are good at conflict don't have to deal with the same level of BS.
    Dr. J

  13. oh really just ask roberta to suck it up. stuff like that happens all the time. i just tell i couldn't call. they tell me the same and i confront immediately if something that's bothering me happens. so the air is clear. i didn't make friends immediately...
    lol, I tried out quite a few before settling down with my current group of friends.. who aren't perfect but are loyal..
    and yes sometimes I or they forget to do something we told we would do. but everybody understands.. no hard feelings.. we move on.

    I hope you had better friends after that... and now too.

  14. Alujna: It ended up being relatively easy to for me to disregard Roberta for the rest of school. She never made any close friends in our class aside from Tina and she took a research year after our MS2 year, so she wasn't around for clerkships.

  15. That's awful! Poor you. I wonder what sorts of doctors they turned out to be. (I know you can't judge adults on how they behaved as teenagers, but they were already adults in med school, so...)