Friday, August 19, 2005

Surveys I

I took a pair of surveys today. One of them is the AAMC Matriculating student questionaire. Briefly, the American Association of Medical Colleges is the cabal of most every med school in the country (and some Canadians as well, perhaps). AAMC administers the test (MCAT) and the admissions system (AMCAS). They also keep track of what we, the students, think. I filled out a similar survey when I took the MCAT - this lets them compare matriculating students (those going to med school) vs the cohort that takes the test. It's confidential, thank God.

I had to enter my AMCAS ID#, which I probably typed several times a day every day for about six months, but has since completely fled my mind. I had hoped that I might stop being a number at some point...

1. When did you definitely decide that you wanted to study medicine?*

I remember this question from back in the day, because my answer "Dude, I haven't" wasn't one of the options. I guess now it would be "during senior year." Though, my decision of whether to actually practice is still up in the air. My desire to practice is kind of like Stockholm Syndrome. The more time I spend around physicians, the more I want to be one. Conversely, since I started thinking about graduate courses, my desire to practice is receeding.

6. Indicate how important the following factors were in your choice of medicine as a career goal by selecting one of the five options to the right of each factor: (Options are Not at all Important ... Very Important)

a. Profession provides opportunity for research
Very Important

b. Profession provides opportunity to develop expertise in a specialized area
What? I could develop expertise in the specialized area of guessing people's ZIP codes from their addresses... but why? Not at all Important

c. Profession provides opportunity to make a difference in people's lives
Where's the circle for: "That's why I'm putting up with you people in the first place" ?

d. Profession provides opportunity to use manual dexterity skills
I'll let this pass.

e. Physicians can have significant control of their work hours
I dunno AAMC, are you glad you stopped beating your wife?

f. Doctors can find practices that limit their amount of work stress
See e.

7. How important were the following individuals and experiences in your decision to study medicine?

g. Particular book, article, film, television program
No, as a matter of fact, I was not one of those geeks who ran home early from Dog Lab to watch ER.

8. How important were the following factors in your choice of this particular medical school?

a. General reputation of school
Yes, I was so excited Dupont was ranked #3 I set my house on fire.**

b. Amount of financial support offered
Very Important.

c. Nature of school's curriculum
As opposed to its demeanor? Not Important.

d. Ability of school to place students in particular residency programs
I didn't know I wanted to go to fancy-schmancy residency programs until I knew I could go to fancy-schmancy residency programs if I went to fancy-schmancy places. Of course, MD/PhD obviates the need for F/S med school, but still. Somewhat Important.

e. It was the only school to offer admission
But then again, it was the school I most wanted to go to. Very Important.

f. Friendliness of the administrator, faculty, and/or students
This is why.

32a. Regardless of your dependency status, please indicate your parents' combined gross income for last year (a rough estimate is sufficient).
Riiight. "$0"

35. How do you plan to finance your medical school education? Please enter a percentage for each applicable category to total 100%.
Now, is this "Work study" or "Award/Scholarship"? Some of my classmates list their occupation as 'indentured servant.' Split the difference.

I consent to have personally identifiable information released to my medical school. I understand that the medical school will not distribute this information to organizations or persons in any form that will permit personal identification of me.

You've got to be kidding me.

So, what does this survey mean? To me, it implies that medicine thinks rather positively of itself, and expects us to think positively of it as well. I left out some issue questions that ask about what we think about the future of medicine, but they struck me as grist for AAMC publications - "87% of incoming medical students think that physicians will be less well paid in the future - we must do something about it!"

It also tells me that the profession isn't ready for me, or that I'm not ready for the profession. Many of the questions asked about things that never even crossed my mind. I wonder what has changed since then. Have some of the questions become more relevant? Was the old survey sitting in my file, screaming, "ZSN has no business being in medicine"?

* Questions are edited for brevity, many are removed entirely.
** Dupont University, borrowed from Tom Wolfe, does not exist. I exist. Therefore, I do not attend Dupont Univeristy. Twit.

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