Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What the dean says....

Please welcome guest blogger Orthochick, a friend of mine who is currently an orthopedic surgery resident. I'm hoping she's going to do a regular spot on the blog, so let's all make her feel real welcome!

In medical school we had the option of going to a monthly "dinner with the dean." At first they really filled up, then people figured out that it was just sitting around listening to the dean talk about how wonderful he was and how many articles he had published and we stopped having them for a while due to low turnout. In my last year of medical school we had one that was supposed to be about how to improve 3rd and 4th year clinical rotations.

Anyway, the meeting was between the dean, a couple of associate deans, and a pile of students. As is the case with everything in medicine, it came down to communication. Communication is a big deal. So while listening to the deans, I noticed that there were a lot of subtle nuances to the med student--dean relationship.

What Deans Say and What They Really Mean
(what they mean is bolded)
We are the only school in the country that does this-->The rest of them understand that it's pointless
We've had a good response so far-->No one's complained out loud
You received a lecture on this topic-->Someone talked at you for 5 minutes right before we let you go for lunch
We'll give you the email address of someone you can contact-->This will guarantee that it will never get done
We're always available to talk with you-->At these carefully structured hour-long meetings
It would be a good idea for you to-->Why the hell did you not think of this on your own?
I understand that this is difficult-->I don't understand why this is so hard for you

That being said, deans are not the only ones that require a little decoding. When you're in a room with a bunch of deans, you have to keep it tactful.

What Med Students Say and What They Really Mean:
(what they mean is bolded)
I don't think I'm the only student with this problem-->Whenever a group of us gets together, we complain about this
I know they mean well, but-->They're heartless creatures but they're in charge of my grade
I think that would be a great solution-->That's the worst idea I've heard all month and clearly you have no idea what it's like to be a student here
One thing I've heard of them doing at other schools-->In my dreams
I'm confused about the expectations-->I spent 8 weeks standing around looking and feeling dumb
I realize this might sound insignificant, but-->This has been an ongoing problem that's bothered me for the past 4 years
Thank you for your time-->I got nothing out of this

As you can probably guess, not very much was accomplished during this meeting or any other meetings. At the end of the meeting the dean started getting snippy and said it was up to us to take responsibility for our actions and our future already, and the other deans spent the whole time on his iPhone, and the other 3 didn't really say anything. So after 2 hours we called it a night and to the extent of my knowledge, they never had one of those again.

(and I left the state a few months later)


  1. What did you expect to get out of this? In my country students did not control education process. As funny and informative your post is, it seems both parties are wasting each others' time.

  2. Welcome Orthochick! That would make a good skit, with "what they really mean" in bubbles above the speakers.

    Actually, those translations resemble most "polite" conversation. Next time someone thanks me for my time, I'll probably think they really meant that I didn't actually help them one bit.

    I enjoyed your post. And I mean that!

  3. I'm confused about the expectations-->I spent 8 weeks standing around looking and feeling dumb

    4th year student here; sounds about right.

  4. Oh my greatness. I agree with the medical student translations 100%. So. Frustrating.

  5. Did you by chance go to Ohio State; because that whole exchange really rings a bell

  6. Currently in medical school. This post summarizes everything that has ever happened at a meeting with almost any member of faculty. They do it so they can say they asked for "student feedback", I can only assume to keep their accreditation. We go because they keep bribing us with free lunch.

  7. Program director: How did you feel about this?
    Me: express disappointment
    PD: shoot down comment as irrelevant. Other concerns?
    Me: express concerns
    PD: shoot down concerns
    Me: more concerns
    PD: corner me into a decision I disagree with
    Me: express concerns regarding corner
    PD: dismiss concerns

    What the hell is the point? If you're not going to listen, then don't pretend you care, and let's forget about these stupid meetings altogether. It's just a show anyway.


    Welcome, orthochick!

  8. Aeris says, "It's just a show anyway."

    You have just described all meetings in a nutshell! lol