I really love my job. I've written several times before about how I think being a doctor is great, and how much I love the people I work with.
Like any profession, though, there are a few bad apples out there. Some doctors, especially subspecialists, seem to think that because they have done residency, fellowship, and maybe additional subspecialty training, they have permission to treat everyone else around them like their inferiors. Sadly, the place this is most felt is usually in academic medicine. The attending was treated badly when he was a resident, so he treats his own residents badly. They, in turn, often treat the medical students badly. And then when everyone has graduated, the cycle sometimes starts over again.
I had to call a certain subspecialist yesterday to ask for a consult about two of my patients. He grilled me about them and gave me a hard time for calling him, questioning me as to why he was needed. At the end of our brief conversation he said, "Well, I'll see the first one but you need to talk to your attending about the second one." Clearly, he thought I was a resident. He didn't know that I'd already graduated and was now actually a colleague, that I am the attending. This apparently gave him permission to treat me like an idiot. I highly doubt he would have said any of those things to any of the other internists or to any of the other attendings who work at my hospital. (This particular person isn't known for his stellar personality, so maybe he would have.) Because he was being so rude, I didn't feel like explaining to him that I am on staff now. I hung up with him and nearly cried. Since I'm a big girl now, I took a deep breath, went back down to my patient's chart and looked over a few things. I really didn't want to call him back, even though I still felt like a consult was needed. He was slightly more polite to me the second time, and finally agreed to see the patient in a few weeks in his clinic. Whatever. The main reason I was calling him was because the professor emeritus of cardiology at our hospital who has been a cardiologist at lot longer than I've been living had recommended it. I tend to do what he tells me.
This interaction made me think two things:
1. There are some aspects of the medical culture that just need to change. No one needs to be treated badly or made to feel like an idiot. If you don't like the way I'm doing something, you can politely instruct me how to do it better. Let's be nice to each other, people.
2. I'm really, really glad I ended up at my residency program. No one acts like this. The attendings are not around to belittle or embarrass. Everyone at my program just wants everyone else to learn - they want to teach by example and encouragement, coming along side the residents to help them become good doctors. And that is good for everyone.