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#1
Old 02-11-2017, 01:02 PM
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How stupid/smart can you be & still be US medical doctor?

US Medical school and the training required after that to become an actual practicing physician is generally noted for being academically rigorous and intellectually demanding. In my day to day activities in various service clubs and community organizations I know several doctors and in talking with them they are intelligent people, but not wildly better informed or full of more scintillating insights than the guy who has the computer services company, or the school principal, small bank VP, or the corporate middle manger at the same table.

So what's the gatekeeping barrier for a US medical doctor? Do you have to be super good at math, obsessive about grades? What mental capacities allow some people to become doctors and others to flame out? Is there some secret path or "one stupid trick" where a person who was not all that smart could actually somehow wind up becoming a US medical doctor?

Last edited by astro; 02-11-2017 at 01:03 PM.
#2
Old 02-11-2017, 01:18 PM
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IANAMD, but have dated and know several MDs. My impression is that to be successful in medical training an individual needs to have above average memory, but not necessarily "smarts"(which is such a vague term that it is essentially meaningless). To the extent medical schools are very competitive, it naturally selects for individuals who did well in undergraduate science classes and who test well on the MCAT, which requires intellectual vigor.

In any case, I'm not sure why you would expect all medical doctors to be well informed -- as Ben Carson demonstrated during the campaign, you can literally be a brain surgeon and yet be clueless about other matters.


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#3
Old 02-11-2017, 01:39 PM
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I think in a lot of STEM fields it could be argued that aside from being at least moderately more intelligent than average you also have to have a strong work ethic and be highly motivated to succeed, I've had many friends that were highly intelligent but just didn't have that innate drive to look at the long-term and dedicate themselves to succeeding at something that took years of commitment to achieve.
#4
Old 02-11-2017, 02:16 PM
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I've always held the opinion that if you are admitted to medical school, you are going to be a doctor. The flunk-out rate is negligible, and rarely results from academic deficiency. And the criteria for admission to a limited number of places in medical school often depends on non-academic criteria. Like, who your family knows.

I can easily be proven wrong about this, and I welcome data that might do so.
#5
Old 02-11-2017, 03:28 PM
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Is it threadshitting if I say, "Ben Carson?"

I've also got a FOAF anecdote, about Registered Nurses who do not know how to figure proportions. "Change this mixture from four-to-one to only two-to-one." "How do I do that?"
#6
Old 02-11-2017, 03:48 PM
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well Dr. Oz had to be pretty smart to become a cardiologist but stupid to believe some of the woo he pushes on his show.
#7
Old 02-11-2017, 05:01 PM
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Mrs. FtG sometimes worked in hospitals. The stories she could tell.

In particular: some doctors just didn't wash their hand between patients! Yes, they lost more than average people due to "hospital" acquired infections. The head Pathologist who saw all this was powerless to do anything about it.

If you don't understand germ theory, you aren't all that bright IMHO.
#8
Old 02-11-2017, 05:20 PM
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I doubt if the ability to do social chitchat well is all that predictive of other abilities except for something like sales.
#9
Old 02-11-2017, 05:40 PM
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My father (a doctor) was fond of saying "remember, 50% of all doctors finished the bottom half of their medical school class."
#10
Old 02-11-2017, 06:29 PM
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IANAD, but from what I've heard, on this board, it sounds like the key to most medical training is remembering a bunch of trivia: What's the name of this gland? What are the symptoms of this disease? And so, theoretically, anyone willing to simply put in the effort for the rote memorization of names and symptoms could possibly qualify as a doctor. (Though I suspect that there's more to it than that.)

To be a good doctor though, you'd really need to understand how all those parts go together, why that disease causes those symptoms, why this medicine cures it, why certain patients might be affected in different ways, etc. And you would also need to have a scientifically minded brain, coming up with hypotheses and figuring out ways you can perform tests to narrow in on a correct diagnosis.

The number I have heard bandied about, of doctors who fit within that realm, is I believe 15%. The other 85%, not so much. And most people rate their doctor on how nice he seems, rather than on his medical skill. So...if you're looking for a new doctor, make sure to check their malpractice and complaints stats with the government, not their Google rating.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 02-11-2017 at 06:31 PM.
#11
Old 02-11-2017, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dofe View Post
IANAMD, but have dated and know several MDs. My impression is that to be successful in medical training an individual needs to have above average memory, but not necessarily "smarts"(which is such a vague term that it is essentially meaningless). To the extent medical schools are very competitive, it naturally selects for individuals who did well in undergraduate science classes and who test well on the MCAT, which requires intellectual vigor.

In any case, I'm not sure why you would expect all medical doctors to be well informed -- as Ben Carson demonstrated during the campaign, you can literally be a brain surgeon and yet be clueless about other matters.
This.

I dated a doctor about twenty years ago. When I met her colleagues at parties and told them I was a mathematician, they sometimes broke into cold sweats and recalled that the two semesters of freshman calculus was the hardest time in their education.

I agree that the requirements for memorization are very high, but reasoning less so, even in subjects related to medicine. I recall talking with a neurosurgeon about an idea I had for a nutritional supplement for strength training, and he had trouble grasping what I thought was a fairly simple idea (and I have no training in nutrition).

At the other end of the scale, I know an M.D. who's a researcher at Johns Hopkins, and scary smart.
#12
Old 02-11-2017, 07:06 PM
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I am sure that most people have heard this one.

Mechanic: I don't see much of a difference between your and my occupations with as both of us either fix or replace worn out parts.

Doctor: Yes, but try doing it while the engine is running without it stopping

Last edited by ssgenius; 02-11-2017 at 07:07 PM.
#13
Old 02-11-2017, 07:45 PM
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I have several friends whom are medical Doctors. For the most part I have been impressed with their common sense and logic as well as mechanical ability or at least mechanical logic. Overall the ones I know seem very bright.
#14
Old 02-11-2017, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by rsat3acr View Post
well Dr. Oz had to be pretty smart to become a cardiologist but stupid to believe some of the woo he pushes on his show.
Or even smarter to pass himself off as believing the woo that makes him money.
#15
Old 02-11-2017, 08:13 PM
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I was shocked once by a letter written by a neurosurgeon that looked like a C+ essay in Freshman comp. But I guess it depends on where you went to school.

I have two cousins who are doctors, and I lived with one during high school. She decided to be a doctor when she was 12, and never got a grade lower than and A after that (or probably before). She helped me with my homework, and got me through my science and math classes.

She went to Vassar, graduated Summa, and then went to Harvard medical school.

She is smart, but mainly she is a really hard worker. She never procrastinates. In fact, if she had to wait to do something, like when a teacher told her she'd have to hand in a paper at the end of the semester, but didn't give her enough information to start it right away, it'd drive her crazy.

She does have a really good memory-- so do I, and so do our fathers. But she also has a high tolerance for boredom. Her mind doesn't wander when she has to sit in a class that doesn't interest her that much. She could stay focused on the larger goal of "I need this class for my medical degree." I have a great deal of trouble doing that. She also can do math. I am lousy at math. I don't retain it the way I retain other things. She isn't brilliant at math, in the sense that she would probably have original insights, and could have gone into math or physics, but she finds the math necessary for medical school relatively easy. She even thinks lower math, like trigonometry, is fun. I really struggled with that, and wouldn't have passed it without her help. If fact, I wouldn't have taken it if she hadn't been there.

My other cousin who is a doctor is also pretty smart, but he isn't the smartest of his siblings (that would be his sister who has a Ph.D in microbiology, and is in Texas working on the vaccine for Ebola). He has the one thing in common with my other cousin (they are on different sides of the family) that they are non-procrastinators.

I think if there's a "trick" to med school, it's that you can't ever get behind.

I know in college I never missed class (hardly ever-- I missed five classes total in four years-- not days-- classes), and I did all my readings. I never had to cram, except for one physics class that was a little beyond me. I had around a 3.5 most semesters, except when I took the physics class. I learned that if I went to all my classes, I didn't really have to study, and that was just a state university, majoring in English. I never got behind, and I never struggled.

Staying on top in med school probably takes a hella lot more work, but if you do it, then you make it, and my cousins never get behind on anything.
#16
Old 02-11-2017, 09:40 PM
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My wife is a PCP, and as I was dating her through med school and residency, I've had the pleasure of social interaction with a fairly high number of doctors. This includes med school classmates that are in the 'elite' specialties as well as a many primary care doctors through the residency and work.

Every doctor I've met has been at least average intelligence, generally a bit above, but not too much. Some of them have been bordering on brilliant, but most haven't, and it's not really the key trait for most specialties. As others have mentioned, it's a combination of memory, work ethic, and perseverance. You can be a doctor with 50th percentile smarts if you're 95th percentile in the rest of those... and if you can combine it with a good communication style, you'll be better at the job than most of the smarter people will be.

(My wife would probably agree with everything I've written, and would have some similar stories about my business colleagues. Some real idiots running some really large companies because they had the connections/money to get there. My 20s and 30s have included a healthy amount of disillusionment in the "person in X important job must be so smart!" realm.)
#17
Old 02-11-2017, 10:51 PM
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Surprisingly, mastery of medicine and high achievement in one's chosen specialty/subspecialty are not necessarily correlated with critical thinking skills.

I base that conclusion on observing physicians who've gone on to high elective office, or who've attained success and fame hosting TV shows, running popular websites and/or writing books and drawing crowds on the lecture circuit. Many if not most were seen by their peers and patients as competent to excellent, but judging by the frequent nonsense they've spouted, you figure there has to be a massive disconnect somewhere.

Of course, you can say the same thing about PhDs, who overall arguably have a tougher path to their degrees and jobs. Notoriously, many Nobel Prize winners have turned out to be spectacular dumbasses outside their fields of endeavor.

So yeah, your internist or surgeon may not as smart as your local mechanic or CPA when it comes to politics or handling everyday affairs. Still, they're probably a better bet if you need a workup for abdominal pain or a diseased segment of bowel removed.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 02-11-2017 at 10:52 PM.
#18
Old 02-12-2017, 08:58 AM
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In the US it's harder to get into vet school than med school. Mostly because there are a lot less vet schools. Vets don't have to do intern/residency but some do in special areas.
#19
Old 02-12-2017, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
Or even smarter to pass himself off as believing the woo that makes him money.
He was smart enough to fool Oprah. IOW, not very.
#20
Old 02-12-2017, 10:00 AM
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A doctor doesn't have to be smart. He needs to have analytical and critical thinking and organizational skills, just like the the people Robert Persig described in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Mechanics". A doctor is a mechanic who solves broken people and makes then run again. A doctor who is not that, is just a medical school graduate with a BMW and a sailboat.

Last summer, I arrived in Addis Ababa with bronchitis, which I had contracted in Manila. I had to go to a doctor for an Rx (no OTC antibiotics there anymore). I was driven to the ER, and saw the first doctor available, and he's the best doctor I've ever had (almost -- I've seen one or two other good ones in my life). My Ethiopian doctor had seen a thousand patients with bronchitis, and knew what it looked like, no bloated lab work.. He asked me a dozen questions about medical history, and listened to my answers. He probed and palpated to rule out other causes of my symptoms. In short, he paid attention to my presentation and compartmentalized my data in the computer between his ears.. He didn't just hand me a lab order, look at the numbers on the test result, and say Here, take this.

The bill, in case you're wondering, came to 25 bucks, including doctors consultation, a Saudi antibiotic, and a tip for my hotel driver. One very interesting thing: In the parking lot, in the dark, there is a table where a nurse checks blood pressure. This routinely gets done to every arriving patient, before they even get inside the building.

Was he a smart doctor? I don't know, but more importantly, he was a wise one.

Those kinds of doctors hardly exist anymore in America.
#21
Old 02-12-2017, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Procrustus View Post
My father (a doctor) was fond of saying "remember, 50% of all doctors finished the bottom half of their medical school class."
Similarly: What do you call the person who graduates last in his medical school class?

SPOILER:
Doctor
#22
Old 02-12-2017, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by F. U. Shakespeare View Post
I dated a doctor about twenty years ago. When I met her colleagues at parties and told them I was a mathematician, they sometimes broke into cold sweats and recalled that the two semesters of freshman calculus was the hardest time in their education.
Likewise, it's disconcerting when medical types tell me how hard organic chemistry was. Please, I don't want to know. We teach that shit to teenagers.
#23
Old 02-12-2017, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
I doubt if the ability to do social chitchat well is all that predictive of other abilities except for something like sales.
And predictive of whether a doctor can put a patient at ease and get them to spill what is really wrong with them and their concerns. Intellect alone isn't enough.
#24
Old 02-12-2017, 02:27 PM
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I only have limited experience with it but I did take some real medical school classes in graduate school (neuroanatomy in particular). They weren't easy at all but it was mainly a memory game. For example, for neuroanatomy, we had to memorize roughly 700 brain areas, some of which were tiny, and the final exam consisted of going to stations with real human brains and identifying the various pins stuck in them. Some of the lectures covered functions but I got the impression they were going to leave most of that to future specialists. They were just trying to give foundational knowledge. Most people could pass it given enough time and guidance.

My uncle, a retired psychiatrist, is very smart but not unusually so. He describes medical school as an endurance and memory stunt. The hardest part is getting in at least up to that point. Very few people flunk out once they get to that point and there is help for people that are struggling. The potential supply of doctors in the U.S. is much larger than it is now because medical school slots are artificially limited because of the costs of building new medical schools among many other things. There are lots of people that could be a great physician but aren't allowed to because they got a B in undergraduate organic chemistry or something else that practicing physicians rarely use.

Like many things, I don't think the limiting factor is raw mental ability beyond a certain point. It is more about perseverance and mental toughness. The whole process all the way through the insane residency hours is basically just a long hazing stunt to see if someone can take the worst things that they will ever have to deal with.

That brings us to the old joke:

What do you call the person that graduated last in the class from the worst medical school in the country?

SPOILER:
Doctor!

Last edited by Shagnasty; 02-12-2017 at 02:30 PM.
#25
Old 02-12-2017, 02:35 PM
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I think one thing that most people don't realize is that the majority of doctors have little scientific training. Medicine is science-based, but doctors have so much factual knowledge to absorb that there seems to be little time devoted to teaching them to think like scientists. (Of course, some do go on to become research-oriented scientists, "MD-PhDs" in the US.)

I find that some doctors tend to be surprisingly lacking in the training that scientists receive to try to check our natural cognitive biases. And medicine is particularly susceptible to these biases. For example: "Patient X presented with complaint Y. Treatment A didn't work, but after treatment B she got better. So now I'm just giving B right away to all my future patients with complaint Y, that's obviously the one that works!"

Of course, most doctors do know better in principle, and an established and documented medical "standard of care" based on the most current research helps doctors practice medicine scientifically without having to read dozens of research papers every night.
#26
Old 02-12-2017, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
I only have limited experience with it but I did take some real medical school classes in graduate school (neuroanatomy in particular). They weren't easy at all but it was mainly a memory game. For example, for neuroanatomy, we had to memorize roughly 700 brain areas, some of which were tiny, and the final exam consisted of going to stations with real human brains and identifying the various pins stuck in them. Some of the lectures covered functions but I got the impression they were going to leave most of that to future specialists. They were just trying to give foundational knowledge. Most people could pass it given enough time and guidance.

My uncle, a retired psychiatrist, is very smart but not unusually so. He describes medical school as an endurance and memory stunt. The hardest part is getting in at least up to that point. Very few people flunk out once they get to that point and there is help for people that are struggling. The potential supply of doctors in the U.S. is much larger than it is now because medical school slots are artificially limited because of the costs of building new medical schools among many other things. There are lots of people that could be a great physician but aren't allowed to because they got a B in undergraduate organic chemistry or something else that practicing physicians rarely use.

Like many things, I don't think the limiting factor is raw mental ability beyond a certain point. It is more about perseverance and mental toughness. The whole process all the way through the insane residency hours is basically just a long hazing stunt to see if someone can take the worst things that they will ever have to deal with.

That brings us to the old joke:

What do you call the person that graduated last in the class from the worst medical school in the country?

SPOILER:
Doctor!
The correct answer is Post 21.
#27
Old 02-12-2017, 06:20 PM
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Doctors are lousy with stats. I had a doctor try to prescribe me med because it might prevent a heart attack by 1-2%. I had to explain random variation and statistical relevance. Then the surgeon who told me my cancer had a 95% cure rate, and I had to explain that was a population measure useful for planning and comparing treatment A with treatment B. I had what I had and living and dying didn't have anything to do with stats.
#28
Old 02-12-2017, 06:31 PM
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I'm a doctor. I would say that the vast majority of the doctors I know are at least a little brighter than the average person, but most of us aren't extraordinary geniuses. Being a somewhat above average bright person with a good memory and a good work ethic is enough to succeed in medicine for the most part.

Now that being said, I do not doubt that Dr. Ben Carson and Dr. Oz are intelligent people. An idiot would not succeed in a highly competitive specialty like neurosurgery or cardiothoracic surgery.
However, intelligent people are not immune to having wacky beliefs, and being very knowledgeable about the one area of medicine you specialized in doesn't make you an expert on any other topic.
For that matter, when I was on my surgery rotations, I really didn't have TIME to do much reading on any topic that didn't relate to surgery - so it is quite plausible to me that Dr. Carson and Dr. Oz are truly smart people who are very well informed on their given specialties, but don't know a lot about other topics they've decided to talk about.
#29
Old 02-13-2017, 07:00 PM
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I'm a lawyer. My parents are doctors. I know a depressing number of stupid lawyers (though law school and the bar exam are very difficulty). I don't know any stupid doctors, although I have less day-to-day contact with American-trained physicians than I do lawyers (I knew lots and lots of Indian- and UK-trained physicians growing up). I also don't know any doctors who I'd call brilliant; even the neurosurgeons I know don't come across as particularly brainy.
#30
Old 02-13-2017, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Marion_Wormer View Post
Doctors are lousy with stats....Then the surgeon who told me my cancer had a 95% cure rate, and I had to explain that was a population measure useful for planning and comparing treatment A with treatment B. I had what I had and living and dying didn't have anything to do with stats.
I don't really follow you. Why was your surgeon wrong to tell you that there is a 95% probability that you would be cured? You seem to be saying that the statistic was correct and applicable to your diagnosis, but that he was wrong to tell you? I don't understand - did you not want to know the probability that you would be cured?
#31
Old 02-13-2017, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Last summer, I arrived in Addis Ababa with bronchitis, which I had contracted in Manila. I had to go to a doctor for an Rx (no OTC antibiotics there anymore). I was driven to the ER, and saw the first doctor available, and he's the best doctor I've ever had (almost -- I've seen one or two other good ones in my life). My Ethiopian doctor had seen a thousand patients with bronchitis, and knew what it looked like, no bloated lab work.. He asked me a dozen questions about medical history, and listened to my answers. He probed and palpated to rule out other causes of my symptoms. In short, he paid attention to my presentation and compartmentalized my data in the computer between his ears.. He didn't just hand me a lab order, look at the numbers on the test result, and say Here, take this.

Was he a smart doctor? I don't know, but more importantly, he was a wise one.

Those kinds of doctors hardly exist anymore in America.
Actually, I would argue that this was an example of a doctor being not particularly smart or wise. A smart doctor would know that bronchitis is a viral infection in almost all cases and that antibiotics are not useful. A wise doctor would know that taking the time to explain this (and the fact that bronchitis can take up to 3 weeks to resolve-so a patient must be patient rather than just taking the easy route of prescribing antibiotics knowing that by the time the patient finished them the symptoms would likely be better anyway) would help prevent the explosive growth in multidrug resistant bacteria that is a direct result of overprescription of antibiotics.

Which brings me to the OP. You have to look at what it takes to become a doctor in order to determine how the selection criteria weeds out certain applicants. Much of the selection is actually self-selection in who is willing to put in the work to satisfy the admissions criteria.

In order to be admitted to medical school, a candidate has to have good grades and test scores in order to meet a certain predetermined minimum standard. This probably requires a certain baseline level of intelligence but more importantly, rewards the ability to take standardized tests more than critical thinking. In order to make it through medical school and training, the candidate has to have the ability to work hard and to delay gratification. Note that above a certain baseline standard (the ability to get a decent grade in Organic Chemistry or to pass basic physics, for example) additional intelligence does not actually make it any easier to either get into or succeed in medical school. In fact, what I remarked on when meeting my medical school class initially, was not their intelligence (although all were reasonably bright) but that most of them seemed to have above average charisma. I have never met a more personable, pleasant charismatic group of people. Whether this is true of other medical schools I can't tell, but it certainly seemed to be a selection criterion at mine. No idea how I slipped through that net.

(Anybody wanting more ranting about the unfairness of medical school admissions is welcome to my college senior paper in my Medical Anthropology course titled "An Anthropological view of the American Medical School Admissions Process", otherwise known as Psychobunny unleashes all of her pent-up frustration at the medical school admissions process and yet somehow still gets an A, thereby truly pissing off all of the actual anthropology students in the class. )
#32
Old 02-14-2017, 12:27 AM
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To experience this phenomena first-hand, become a Medicare (or, even better, Medicaid) patient and sign up with the local Med School.
I have several things going on, one of which is kidney failure.
It takes a large operation to have beginners in Nephrology - but a big teaching clinic can find them.

I don't know why they even print business cards - these people are gone after 6 months to a year.
I have had at least 4 since 2009. The current one spent 5-10 minutes trying to bring up my record without admitting he did not know my name.
I pulled out the old "credit-card" type ID the clinic used before everything was online and placed it next to his keyboard.

I lived in SF for approx. 30 years. I do well with various accents.

But this clinic is pushing it. The Hindi was thick enough to cut with a saw; this Russian is improving fast, but that first appointment was almost comical.
#33
Old 02-14-2017, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by psychobunny View Post
Actually, I would argue that this was an example of a doctor being not particularly smart or wise. A smart doctor would know that bronchitis is a viral infection in almost all cases and that antibiotics are not useful. A wise doctor would know that taking the time to explain this (and the fact that bronchitis can take up to 3 weeks to resolve-so a patient must be patient rather than just taking the easy route of prescribing antibiotics knowing that by the time the patient finished them the symptoms would likely be better anyway) would help prevent the explosive growth in multidrug resistant bacteria that is a direct result of overprescription of antibiotics.
Thank you. I was debating whether to tackle this but you said it much better than I would have. There are a couple of urgent cares around here that hand out z-pack prescriptions to anyone with a cough and it drives me nuts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psychobunny View Post
(Anybody wanting more ranting about the unfairness of medical school admissions is welcome to my college senior paper in my Medical Anthropology course titled "An Anthropological view of the American Medical School Admissions Process", otherwise known as Psychobunny unleashes all of her pent-up frustration at the medical school admissions process and yet somehow still gets an A, thereby truly pissing off all of the actual anthropology students in the class. )
That actually sounds like an entertaining read.

As others have said it takes a certain level of intelligence to retain the amount of information thrown at you in medical school but the amount of time you're willing to put in studying is at least as important as how smart you are.
#34
Old 02-14-2017, 09:25 AM
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My daughter is n a small major in the biology dept. of a major university. It's MCDB (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology) This is where the Med School students come from. About 80% of Med School admissions come from MCDB and 20% from pre-med. Iv'e met her classnates and I haven't met a one that wasn't sharp as a tack.

it's got on of the highest dropout rates of any major in the school. along wit aerospace engineering

Last edited by Lamar Mundane; 02-14-2017 at 09:30 AM.
#35
Old 02-14-2017, 10:44 AM
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I worked for a major medical school just a few years ago and met (and interacted with) hundreds of first year med students.

None were 'stupid' but many were very sheltered and what I would describe as 'clueless'. The majority were very good at studying and memorizing facts, as has already been described by other posters. But I think most organized people with average intelligence and a BS degree from a four year college could pass med school.
#36
Old 02-14-2017, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
I don't really follow you. Why was your surgeon wrong to tell you that there is a 95% probability that you would be cured? You seem to be saying that the statistic was correct and applicable to your diagnosis, but that he was wrong to tell you? I don't understand - did you not want to know the probability that you would be cured?
I think she is saying that the 95% figure is essentially abstract since her prognosis is totally independent of the other people who make up the sample.
#37
Old 02-14-2017, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by skylyn12 View Post
I worked for a major medical school just a few years ago and met (and interacted with) hundreds of first year med students.

None were 'stupid' but many were very sheltered and what I would describe as 'clueless'. The majority were very good at studying and memorizing facts, as has already been described by other posters. But I think most organized people with average intelligence and a BS degree from a four year college could pass med school.
Maybe, nut if they didn't have the self-discipline as an undergrad, they're probably not going to be a good student in Med School. I don't really care what my Dr. knows about art or politics as long as they know medicine.
#38
Old 02-15-2017, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
I think she is saying that the 95% figure is essentially abstract since her prognosis is totally independent of the other people who make up the sample.
What exactly do you mean by the words "abstract" and "independent"? The statistics of a sample of people with the same condition is the only way to provide an accurate prognosis. Her prognosis is the diametric opposite of "independent" of that statistic.

Is this some kind of "I'm not just a statistic" argument? If so, it's a strange example to cite in support of the notion that doctors are "lousy with stats".

If you just want a doctor to hold your hand and tell you everything will turn out fine, that's up to you. But personally, if I'm diagnosed with cancer, the first thing I want to know is the probability distribution of my life expectancy. The only way to give a meaningful answer to that question is to look at the statistics of a sample of people similar to me with a similar diagnosis.

Last edited by Riemann; 02-15-2017 at 06:03 AM.
#39
Old 02-15-2017, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
The statistics of a sample of people with the same condition is the only way to provide an accurate prognosis.
The problem is that simply saying "x% of people who come in with that problem are cured" ignores any mitigating factors. I don't know if that's their issue with it, but, from where I stand, it can easily be seen as a possible apples and oranges comparison.

Age, relative health, timing of the diagnosis, etc. all play a role--if those aren't taken into account, the stat is fairly meaningless.
#40
Old 02-15-2017, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Debillw3 View Post
The problem is that simply saying "x% of people who come in with that problem are cured" ignores any mitigating factors. I don't know if that's their issue with it, but, from where I stand, it can easily be seen as a possible apples and oranges comparison.

Age, relative health, timing of the diagnosis, etc. all play a role--if those aren't taken into account, the stat is fairly meaningless.
Yes, of course. It would make a lot more sense if that's what was meant in that post - the surgeon was just doing statistics poorly. But it's still statistics - you don't know what a mitigating factor is without statistics. Effectively, that's just saying that if there is a more precisely matched sub-sample (say, females with a certain genotype and in a particular age range) rather than all patients, then that's the better statistic to use. So statistics is still the only way to provide a prognosis. Maybe that's what she meant, but the post didn't seem to read like that, that's why I queried it.

Last edited by Riemann; 02-15-2017 at 09:43 AM.
#41
Old 02-15-2017, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamar Mundane View Post
Maybe, nut if they didn't have the self-discipline as an undergrad, they're probably not going to be a good student in Med School.
A lot of people mature substantially between their undergraduate years and graduate programs - especially if they don't go straight from one to the other. I was drunk more or less permanently from 1999 to 2003 while I was an undergrad and pretty much just went to campus to get the syllabus and for midterms/finals, except when I had a hankering for Steak Escape (the only one in town was in the Student Union) and incidentally went to class afterwards. I had something like a 1.9 GPA after two years of my BA program and finished with a 2.5. It wasn't like I had other onerous obligations, either; I was in a fraternity and I had a part-time job just for extra drinking money, and that was pretty much it.

In law school, by contrast, I only missed about 5 classes in 4 years and graduated cum laude - working full-time and going to school at night.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
What exactly do you mean by the words "abstract" and "independent"? The statistics of a sample of people with the same condition is the only way to provide an accurate prognosis. Her prognosis is the diametric opposite of "independent" of that statistic.
I mean that if she was going to die, she was going to die whether or not 95% of similar patients do. I'm not saying I agree with her analysis.
#42
Old 02-15-2017, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
I mean that if she was going to die, she was going to die whether or not 95% of similar patients do. I'm not saying I agree with her analysis.
Yes, that's the way I read it too. Or at least, I queried it because it seemed to be saying that.
#43
Old 02-15-2017, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by rsat3acr View Post
well Dr. Oz had to be pretty smart to become a cardiologist but stupid to believe some of the woo he pushes on his show.
You'd be surprised how stupid otherwise smart people can become when their paycheck depends on it.
#44
Old 02-15-2017, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by astro View Post
US Medical school and the training required after that to become an actual practicing physician is generally noted for being academically rigorous and intellectually demanding. In my day to day activities in various service clubs and community organizations I know several doctors and in talking with them they are intelligent people, but not wildly better informed or full of more scintillating insights than the guy who has the computer services company, or the school principal, small bank VP, or the corporate middle manger at the same table.

So what's the gatekeeping barrier for a US medical doctor? Do you have to be super good at math, obsessive about grades? What mental capacities allow some people to become doctors and others to flame out? Is there some secret path or "one stupid trick" where a person who was not all that smart could actually somehow wind up becoming a US medical doctor?
I'm only familiar with the Australian system, but the people I know who've worked in both systems tell me that the graduates are the same.

You have to be exceptionally good at studying / learning. The system (in Australia) is set up to help you: they know that you have to learn a lot of stuff, and they try to make that possible. But you have to be good at studying / learning to get there, you have to be good at studying / learning to get through, and you learn a lot of good studying / learning skills as you go.

The medical students weren't exceptionally smart (the exceptionally smart students were in physics, not medicine). The course work was exceptionally well explained and taught, so they didn't have to do any more thinking after pre-med. It was clearly easier than engineering. Except that there was a lot of it. A truck-load of content. I heard about physics students that were smarter than their professors, but I never heard of a med student who knew more than their professors.

Last edited by Melbourne; 02-15-2017 at 08:07 PM.
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