Is medical school an anti-mentorship program?

Medical School Mentors

“Medical school is a great anti-mentorship program. You meet a lot of doctors you’d never want to become.” That’s what med students keep telling me.

Mentorless medical students?

I had no idea. Until students started shadowing me. Many also volunteer at hospice and free clinics. I asked one gal, “You must meet a lot of wonderful doctors there. Right?”

“Not really,” she said, “Doctors are on automatic pilot as they try to navigate through a staggeringly high volume of patients. It’s so disheartening. And what’s worse, everyone I speak with says, ‘That’s just the way it is. It is too expensive, difficult, and risky to go into private practice anymore. You can’t be a solo doctor in this day and age.’ After meeting you, I know there is another way.”

“You haven’t worked with solo docs?”

“No. I haven’t met anyone else who has escaped our broken system to practice medicine as it should be practiced—on a personal and human level. I was worried that I was having childish delusions of grandeur by thinking I could actually practice medicine in such a way in today’s climate. I worried I’d go through med school and residency only to find that in the end there was no refuge from our inhumane health care system. I’m here because there are no tools or mentors to help me be the doctor I’d like to be.”

Here’s a tool for docs and med students (because it’s never too early to get a game plan for your ideal future): FREE No B.S. Guide To Launching Your Ideal Clinic

Medicine is an apprenticeship profession. We learn by watching doctors around us. Sadly, many aren’t happy. Most docs I meet have been victimized for years. Many think they’ve got “burnout,” but physician burnout is really physician abuse. Hint: No amount of deep breathing, meditation, yoga, resilience training will make your crappy assembly-line job joyful. Cut your losses, get a real mentor, and move on.

So how do you find a mentor?

Look for doctors who are doing what you want to be doing and hang out with them—now! If you want to be a happy doctor treating real patients, your mentor should be a happy doctor who is treating real patients. If you take business advice from cynical doctors who are depressed—you’ll be getting career advice from depressed cynics, if that’s what you want. Warning: if they’re not happy successful doctors seeing real live patients, how can they help you become a happy REAL doctor?

Need a mentor? Contact me. I can hook you up.

How do you know if you’ve got the right mentor?

The right mentors are practicing medicine the way you want to practice medicine. Beware: there are many physician gurus, authors, speakers and burnout specialists out there who are no longer practicing medicine—because they “burned out.” Would you choose a divorced marriage therapist who has never had a successful marriage? Avoid advice from people who have never done what you plan to do. 

Want a bunch of amazing mentors for life?  Join our teleseminar!

Pamela Wible, M.D., founded the Ideal Medical Care Movement. She has been awarded the 2015 Women Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Student Association for her inspiring contributions to medicine. Contact Dr. Wible. She loves to hear from med students and docs.

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6 comments on “Is medical school an anti-mentorship program?
  1. Ann Cordum says:

    Well said Pamela. Right on. I am willing to mentor a student…….

  2. Steven says:

    I am a psychiatry resident in NYC and would love to have a psychiatrist mentor who is aware of the real issues American medicine/psychiatry is facing. Thanks:)

  3. Raji says:

    I agree with most of what you say. While everybody in today’s world knows about the problem of burnout, most physicians don’t really do anything to deal with it, or better still, prevent it from an early stage in their careers! As a life coach and surgeon who has been through it, I feel that getting out of the system is an easy way to escape. But think of the loss to the country, the public, and to the person themselves, when a person decides to quit medicine! After all, most people go into medicine for truly altruistic purposes – to lose them fue to disillusion is a true loss. I believe burnout should be recognized as a true risk, and students should receive coaching to develop the skills to take care of themselves through a stressful but challenging and cery rewarding career.

  4. Brendaline says:

    I love reading Dr. Pamela Wible’s articles posted here on her blog. They are so inspiring for prospective healers in this day and age. I welcome the chance of becoming a private practitioner in the not-too-distant future as an aspiring Acupuncturist and Oriental Medicine student and have met some pretty inspiring mentors and solo practitioners who are happy, healthy and successful in what they do.

    Definitely there is a welcomed solution to the growing healthcare demands of over-capacity patient to doctor ratio, and the growing demands for better healthcare alternatives to the problem of burnout and anxiety. Glad the Dr. Pamela addresses these issues here in a down-to-earth, open and proactive sort of way. Welcomed news to any students aspiring to become altuistic and empathetic healers! Change is possible with the right mentorship and advisors.

    Kudos to Dr. Pamela and her award-winning campaign of excellence in healthcare!

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