Today at school we started a new “block”. (Our curriculum is split up into segments of 8-9 weeks called blocks. The last one was “Brain & Behavior, and we just started “Circulation, Respiration, and Regulation”.) Each block is led by different physicians and scientists who specialize in the subject matter being taught, so inevitably there are changes in how things are taught each time we begin a new block. The great thing about starting a new block, then, is watching a room of about 100 med students become very uncomfortable with the changes. There are the vocal complaints and audible groans, then the pointed questions from high-strung “type A” personalities asking things like “Why are you moving away from a Board-prep style of teaching,” and “Why are you making it like that other block from last year that we hated so much?”
This got me to thinking: Is the medical school supposed to alter their teaching style to fit the students, or should the medical students try to adapt to a changing situation? Who should fit who? Should the school bend to the student’s demands, or should the students accept it as a challenge and move forward?
My opinion: the student should accept the challenge from the teachers. Classically, that’s what education is. The student has always been challenged by the teacher. (That’s Socrates to the right — I admit that I don’t know much about him or his methods.) Rather than complaining that the new way of doing things somehow makes it harder to succeed, the student should say, “Okay, so you’re making it more difficult — I’m going to do well anyway!” Instead of taking that anxious energy and whining about the status quo, focus that energy and blow every test out of the water. Look at it as a chance to prove that you can do well regardless of the circumstances; an opportunity to show your true mettle. Prove that you are so destined to become a physician that you’re going to learn the stuff no matter what tries to get in your way!
I think of this kind of response as the “high road”. Take whatever hand your dealt and make the most of it. Take a less-than-ideal situation and do extraordinary things. The “low road”, on the other hand, is just complaining about how it’s somebody else’s fault that things are hard for you. Nobody likes a whiner. And nobody is impressed by somebody who does well when everything is stacked in their favor. But when somebody does well when it’s not easy, that’s impressive.
So what kind of “somebody” do you want to be? Personally, I want to be the doer, not the complainer.