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Bad Medicine: 42 Percent of Med Students Say They Were Mistreated


Is making big bucks as a doctor worth being treated poorly while you’re in school?

do no harm 

(Photo Credit: edenpictures/Flickr)

The Association of Medical Colleges surveys recent graduates every year to see what their experiences were like. This year, KUOW reports, 42 percent said that they felt they were mistreated, most often by being publicly embarrassed or humiliated.

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A similar survey from University of Washington Medical School found that students were belittled in front of patients and yelled at. Students also reported sexist behaviors, with one graduate reporting that an instructor told her that “women are ruining medicine.”

Median salaries for physicians range from $130,000 to well over $200,000 a year, but in order to earn those salaries, students often have to survive what amounts to a sort of hazing, Geoffrey Young of the Association of American Medical Colleges tells KUOW.

“You sort of have to pay your dues. ‘If I did it therefore you have to do it’ — that’s sort of the mentality that I think folks may have,” Young says, adding that he feels this type of behavior can “erode empathy,” which is the foundation of the doctor-patient relationship.

Believe it or not, these numbers might actually be better than previous years. The New York Times reports that the first surveys 20 years ago showed that “85 percent of students felt they had been abused during their third year. They described mistreatment that ranged from being yelled at and told they were ‘worthless’ or ‘the stupidest medical student,’ to being threatened with bad grades or a ruined career and even getting hit, pushed or made the target of a thrown medical tool.”

Still, for the sake of both future doctors and patients, we obviously have a long way to go.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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