Probably for any field, there are unwritten rules. Things you cannot predict. Practices not specified on a website, or in a document. Why do some students seem to excel without angst, while others appear to be swimming upstream?
One of the things I’ve learned as a medical student on rotations is that there are unwritten rules in the hospital. I learned many of these on my away rotations. While I would analyze websites and study documents about how to be successful, it came down to the advice passed down from residents and attendings. It was as if the stories I was told, the oral sagas, would be the best tips and tricks for me to do well.
One of the biggest challenges and I’ll argue disparities in medicine, is that these unwritten rules affect our perspectives and careers in medicine. The residents we have, the mentors we find, and our relationships with them will affect how we match. I wish it weren’t so, that the playing field was level and available to all students regardless. But unfortunately, I’ve found that the best tips to be successful did not come from prescribed advice written on a website or in an email.
One example, no one told me that when you, as the med student, are asked to pick the OR playlist, you choose Motown. Always choose Motown. It’s happy and upbeat. It doesn’t make anyone feel intimidated. No one is uncomfortable. When I learned that, I noticed a different relationship with many of my attendings.
I’m currently working to solve this problem, to reveal these unspoken rules in medicine. One of the initiatives we’ve started at my school is to connect with young alums, less than 5 years out, and to have them reveal some of the biggest lessons they’ve learned so far. This wisdom would be available to all students. It is my hope that we take the time to share these rules, share our stories and to be open about being successful as a medical student, so we don’t make it any harder for others to succeed.
What other unwritten rules have you all learned?