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Team building with little time

I’ve been asked to supervise some medical students and, I must admit, I don’t really want to. The thing is, I’ve done it before and it is hard work. With the best medical students in the world, it is still hard work. And none of it is official, really.

I’ve been asked to supervise some medical students and, I must admit, I don’t really want to. The thing is, I’ve done it before and it is hard work. With the best medical students in the world, it is still hard work. And none of it is official, really.

The medical students sort of belong to my consultant, but they’re there voluntarily. She has sublet the project to me; the idea being that they do it, I tidy it up and then I send it on to her for approval.

When does she think I’m going to do this? I barely have time to do my own work, let alone babysit for someone else. My problem is that I’m a control freak. I can’t just stand by and let people get something wrong and proudly present me with results that are nowhere near good enough to send off. Then they smile diffidently and ask me what I think.

Should I drip-feed them, guiding them through the process step by step, never letting go of the dual controls?

I stand to gain little from my efforts. If this thing ever makes it through peer review, I’m going to be third author on a case report. I complain bitterly about this to my old housemates from university at our annual gathering.

Now a cohort of senior registrars, junior consultants and general practitioners, they chastise me for my attitude. How would I feel if I knew that my project supervisor didn’t want to do it?

And the point is, my friends continue, the medical students have got to learn. People aren’t born with the ability to write scientific papers. My job is not to do the work for them, although this would be the easiest thing for me, but to guide them through the process, teach them how to approach this and let them make their own mistakes.

And now they’ve made me feel guilty and I’m thinking back to when the registrar who, supervised my undergraduate project, made me redraft my essays again and again until they were word perfect and ready to send off.

And when the time comes, my fears are not realised. A polite e-mail pings into my inbox, two pleasant, enthusiastic and diligent students appear at the door of my clinic room. A short while later their first draft arrives. I am astounded. They’ve done a fantastic job. I tidy it up a bit, make some suggestions and send it on to the boss for review.

These two were self-selected, motivated and talented. Not all doctors are going to end up needing to write papers, but it’s my role to help those who want to, to develop these skills and to help the rest of them learn to read, understand and appraise a paper that will aid their clinical practice.

Zara Jones is a specialty trainee

Posted in:  Ways of working

Tags:  medical students specialist training medical reports

Comments

  • Ally

    4 February 2013

    I'm a little sorry for writing this. Mainly because it constitutes criticism but what really is the point of this?

  • Alina

    5 February 2013

    I will always have time for students. Because I will never forget HOW damaging it was for me (and how hard I had to work to overcome this damage) to have had seniors (professors, doctors) who didn't care, didn't have time, didn't have patience and understanding.
    Teaching those who know less than you on a subject is one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences there are.
    Even if one is to do it for purely selfish reasons, because having to teach, explain somehting to somebody means you have to have solid knowledge of it.
    I'm a perfectionist (variation on control freak?) but that only helps because it means I want students' learning experience to be perfect (like the registrar).

  • swdohlmr

    3 February 2014

    1

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