So in my last blog post I mentioned that I got a bad evaluation from my last preceptor. Let me just say that I take negative criticism very seriously. Before this, all of my evaluations this year had been very good. Sure I had some things to work on and some areas of weakness, but all of my preceptors have enjoyed working with me and they have had very complimentary things to say in their comments.
I really enjoyed my surgery rotation, and I thought the preceptor was great. He seemed to like me. We had great conversations. I learned a ton. So I was expecting to receive a great evaluation. However, when I got it, it was pretty bad. I didn’t fail or anything, but it just wasn’t great. And in his comments he said that I was “apathetic and indifferent.” That really shocked me.
I have never been called either of those things in my life, and it was really hard to stomach. I spent the whole day thinking about it. Unfortunately, I read it first thing in the morning, so it made it really hard to interact with patients and my new preceptor because I kept thinking, “What on earth am I doing that makes me seem apathetic?”
After I got home and put Anika to bed, I just sat down on the couch and cried. I still couldn’t believe it. I kept thinking, what if that is how patients see me? Apathetic and indifferent means that I don’t care. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I care so much about what I am doing. That’s why I’m doing it! I don’t leave my daughter at day care every day to go do something I don’t care about.
I’m still not sure why he said that, and I may never know. He mentioned that he thinks I should button up my white coat (which I never do because it is uncomfortable) and not lean against the wall in the patient room (which I do because you have to stand all day while the preceptor sits). But I really don’t think those things would make me seem apathetic.
As you can see, I take criticism very seriously. I really try to look at myself honestly. I know I am not enthusiastic about surgery. My preceptor would get so excited to do a hernia repair, and I would be thinking omg another hernia. Maybe I came off as being apathetic about surgery. I guess I hope that’s what he meant and not that I was apathetic about the patients.
Although I think what he said is wrong, there might be some truth there. Medical school is long and trying. And I’m still right in the middle of it. More and more I forget why I wanted to do this. The more patients I see, the less exciting it becomes. There are days where I really just want to not be in school anymore – to be done with it and on my own. And things are probably going to get worse before they get better.
So, although it really hurt my feelings to hear those words, I am trying to use it for the better. I will take it as a reminder of the big picture. I love medicine, and I love seeing patients. Sometimes I just forget. I can’t lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t let my love of medicine get buried beneath all of the hassles of medical school. And I’ll make it my goal to let that be the last time anyone ever calls me apathetic or indifferent.
I take negative criticism to heart as well, so I’m sorry to hear that you received such vague feedback from your preceptor! I know I’ve only read your posts and don’t know you personally, but from someone who writes so passionately about medicine (and whose posts get me excited for all types of rotations despite my interest level) , you seem like the last person who would be apathetic/indifferent!
Thank you! That is a very nice compliment!
First off, I love reading your blog. And second I also take criticism very seriously and to heart (as I was a fire/medic in the field for so many years). I am first year medical student right now and am almost more worried about my clinical years because of the preceptors than I am of passing first term!!
Negative criticism always leads me to some level of introspection, and it seems to me you do the same thing. I love that you were neither willing to let it smash you totally, nor did you blow it off as something unimportant. To me (as new as I am to all this), that strikes me as someone who is anything but apathetic and indifferent!
-Best – JP