Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kissing up

About a month ago I had a pre-med student spend an afternoon with me. Actually, it wasn't even that. After 2 hours she looked liked she was bored out of her mind (I'd warned her about that, but she still wanted to come in) and left at 3:00, saying she was meeting a friend for lunch.

Anyway, I didn't hear from her again until yesterday, when this neatly typed note showed up in the mail:

Dear Dr. Grumpy,

Thank you for taking the time and allowing me to shadow you last month. I understand that having me there required a tremendous amount of time and effort, and I genuinely appreciate your support. My time with you was an unparallelled pleasure.

You are a great leader, humanitarian, and physician. I will always cherish the knowledge that you shared with me.

Yours truly,

Katie Brownnose

Dear Katie,

Thank you for your kind note. I'm sorry I wasn't able to keep you awake during your brief time here, but I warned you that office neurology, to an outsider, is less than exciting.

I'm glad you wrote, because I've been meaning to get in touch with you. Based on our brief time together I'm concerned you may have narcolepsy, and suggest you see a sleep specialist. If it would be easier, try to spend time with one (like you did with me) and they'll likely notice.

Thank you for your kind words. I've always considered myself a great leader here in my practice, but given that I'm solo this is easy. The real truth, though, is that Mary and Annie are in charge, and I just do what they tell me. If you become a doctor, you'll figure that out at some point.

I'm assuming that someday you'll hit me up for a letter of recommendation. Based on my interaction with you, I can certainly reassure them that you're neatly dressed, speak English when wide awake, and have 4 limbs, 1 head, and 2 eyes.

Yours truly,

Ibee Grumpy, M.D.

Actually, folks, I understand her note. I wrote my share of similar stuff back in the day, and now I realize even more so how awful it sounded.


J said...

I am often on the receiving end of that with clients, as well as being recruited to be a reference for them. Just part of the job.

Mari-Ann said...

This was disturbingly over the top, even for a brownnoser. Unparallelled pleasure? The girl needs some life experience STAT.

Anonymous said...

Having 1 head must be germain to the practice of neurology, yes?

Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home said...

I love this! We have medical students rotate through our clinic and some of them are such tools!

Anonymous said...

Hey, at least she wrote you a thank-you note, even if it was a form letter.

Packer said...

Pre Med means college student. I have one of those (college student not pre med and currently considering 4th or 5th major) visiting my house between his working 60 hours per week, going to baskeball/football/ viewings, the gym hanging out with buddies , school another 60 hours , playing on his phone 40 hours or so, he is often tired--I understand--but it is not narcolepsy. It is amusing at times when he sits at the dinner table once or twice per week and face plants in the mashed potatoes.

Anonymous said...

This is why, when one of my docs asks if a student can observe my appointment, I say "nope, sorry". I'm paying for the appointment, why should I put up with some kid stifling yawns in the corner while I talk to my doctor?

Anonymous said...

It's so difficult to write a graceful thank you note. At least she wrote one, and maybe someday she'll write better ones.

Anonymous said...

Now that you've long since transitioned into the world of medicine and been practicing for several years (ie, you know how this stuff works as you've indicated), I'd love to read a rendition of the thank you note you think would be pretty awesome to get.

The Patient Doc said...

Maybe they ought to teach students how to write thank you letters, cover letters, letters of recommendation, and all manners of professional letters. I think it would be very helpful.

Hildy said...

As a non-medical person, can someone tell me: Are pre-med students FORCED to find a doc to shadow regardless of specialty? Are you not allowed to ask to shadow someone doing something you think you might be interested in? Because if you thought you might be interested, you should at least act interested (i.e., stay awake, ask questions, etc.)--even if you decide the specialty isn't for you. But, yes, the (probably form) thank-you letter was excessively fulsome and thus insincere.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Grumpy,

Thank you for allowing me to shadow you last week.

I'm sorry I had difficulty staying awake but greatly appreciate your assistance in helping me decide exactly what I do not want to do.

Every other neurologist I called refused to let me shadow them, so thank you for being such a great leader, humanitarian, and physician by helping me get this perspective. I take unparalleled pleasure in preventing myself from making the mistake of getting into neurology. It might be good for you, but it clearly is not for me.

I will always cherish this experience.

Anonymous said...

Do not be overly critical of the (nearly lost) art of a written "thank you"

Anonymous said...

At least you realized you were once Mr. Ibee "Greenstick Suck-up" Grumpy before you became the eminent neurologist Dr. Ibee Grumpy. Pre-meds have a lot of growing up to do yet and need guidance with constructive criticism. I would have pointed out to Katie that her Thank You note should first have been toned down and secondly sent (NOT e-mailed!)the day after she was in your office. What Katie sorely needs is a mentor.

Amy said...

I think as a recipient of said letters I would write a thank you note akin to a wedding gift thank you note. I think pointing out a concrete example (like what they tell us to do for student evaluations) is helpful.

this would be:

"Dr Grumpy, thank you for spending time with me yesterday. I especially enjoyed the encounter with Mr. A who had an interesting problem with his numb toenail. You showed compassion and interest in his problem and demonstrated attributes I admire and hope to gain as a future physician."

Dr. K said...

Dr Grumpy-
I have had students following me in my Peds office: 12 year olds to med students. I just think the teens are more tired.....
I love your blog, but this one did not amuse.
Was that last line brown-nosing?
Dr. K

Candi said...

Never had a student doctor shadowing, but did have a nursing student shadowing once when I took my kids in for vacs. She was a little slow, but trying very hard to get things right. I think she did well.

The most amusing part was watching the nurse she was shadowing doing her best to restrain herself from jumping in and doing it for the student.

The art of saying "thank you" seems all too often lost, not merely the thank you note. (Seriously, when you get an 'oh, my, this is wonderful!' reply to a 'your people did awesome work' email, it makes you a little sad.)

Anonymous said...

Are thank you notes customary for shadowing? Back when I was a premed I always gave verbal thank yous, but never a note. I wonder if all those docs remember me as some ingrate.

Anonymous said...

She mailed you (with a stamp and everything?) a personalized (if ridiculously, stupidly florid) thank-you note.

I'd, personally, be flattered, although amused by the language. Not many college students will take the time to send written thank-you notes these days.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a lot of people are posting negative feedback on this. The very last line of his post says that he understands her note and can relate to the girl.

He is just having fun with it, and if you all remember that is the way in which Dr. G entertains us.

cliffintokyo said...

The most productive use of this student's time would be take a 'rest-aid' pill and catch up on her sleep!
Clearly still learning English; is she on a 'minorities' program by any chance? (Young women are notoriously incompentent at writing thank you letters...)

Anonymous said...

Okay. My standards are so low currently, and thank you note, that is hand written and vaguely coherent is a gold star.

At least she tried. And she is pre med. He biggest concern is Starbucks and hair high lights at the moment. I remember be early 20's.

I had a med student shadow my nephrologist. Found out that he was jonesing to be an ophthalmologist, so nephrology was the equivalent to Thorazine.

I have Conn's syndrome, don't see too many cases of those running around. He was actually dose off. So I bark. Bark! Bark! Bark! My doctor jumped, but the med student damn near pissed himself.

You fall asleep on my dime, means I get to amuse myself however I see fit.

My nephrologist laughed his head off afterwards. I guess this med student took narcolepsy to coma status the whole time shadowing him.


Anonymous said...

Oh, please tell me you actually sent that response...please, please, please.

Cartoon Characters said...

I had a student shadow me once. She fainted. I think that's a little worse than narcolepsy.

The student never did go into medicine. She went into police work instead.

I'll never figure that one out.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it wasn't the blood and guts that bothered her... Maybe she was traumatized at the thought of being the one to put the blood and guts back together. Maybe she had a fear of Humpty Dumpty.

arzt4empfaenger said...

In Germany, pre-meds don't need to shadow doctors. We do have four practicals, though, where you work on a ward for a month (for free), plus one month on nursing level. It's not common to write notes, instead, on your last day, you bring a cake for the staff. Similar with first intubation etc. - the team that let you intubate/helped you succeed receives a box of beer, cake, lunch or whatever. I only had one doctor in my last year who said that, since the med students were doing all the work, the staff should actually give *them* a cake. ;-) So far thank yous are always given verbally, and are well-received by the educating doctors.

Unknown said...

Thank you for letting me spend some time with you in your office, and see your patients. Although it may be boring to an outsider, like you said, I can appreciate the type of work you do. To be honest, you used a lot of words I didn't understand, so I found myself sometimes becoming confused and zoning out. I'm looking forward to learning about all the things you talked about in medical school, and woild love to revisit your office once I have a better knowledge of neurology.

How's that?

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