Science and premeds, continued.
In response to comments on last post:
you'll just have to wait and see! Or, you know, lurk more often.
actually I think it's an interesting question, because I really had to think back on what my reasoning was at the time. It's funny to think about now only I could have known back then what would end up happening.
I have students ask me from time to time, "should i major in this or that?" or worse, tell me they want to go to grad school in my field. I always tell them to do the engineering version of what I do, because at least then they MIGHT be able to find work. Full stop. Without grad school or postdoc.
Usually the ones interested in med school are just really gung-ho, so they're not asking. OR, their parents are insisting that they have to go to med school, so they have no choice in the matter. Those two groups are more likely to pick majors where they're sure they can get straight A's and still have time to volunteer as candy-stripers or EMTs.
My parents would have loved for me to go to med school, but they didn't know that the science track was a careerless wasteland, or they never would have let me do it. Part of my reasoning with them was that I could get paid to go to grad school, but I'd have to go into debt to go to med school.
Still, I wouldn't have done it if I had known there would be no jobs after all this "training".
I thought med school + internship + residency was too long to wait to have a Real Job!
Okay I can kind of laugh about it now...
I hate to say this, but I think you're right that med students don't get enough training in how to reason through evidence in support of newer or alternative treatments. Although, I think younger doctors coming out of school now are much more prepared than older doctors.
However, I don't think most undergraduate programs provide this kind of training, either. I'm not sure that requiring lab experience at the undergraduate level provides enough exposure, either. Most of those kinds of internships are in advanced dishwashing and basic pipetting. A good way to get your hands wet, maybe, if you want to see what the research life is like. But it doesn't really show you more than a glimpse.
Instead, I think that perhaps some of the classroom time that med students currently spend memorizing and being tested on out of date material would be better invested in laboratory time learning how research is done and how to evaluate new information with critical thinking skills.
But hey, that's a crazy idea and nobody would ever do it, right?
No, I'm kidding of course. (Some? Or most?) med schools already do lab rotations even with their regular MD students. Sometimes it's just an elective over the summer, or whatever, but it's there for the students who want it.
My beef with this is two-fold, but this is an important point so I'm going to break it down:
1) it's too short
2) it has no consequences.
It's too short
It's usually not long enough for the students to become really invested in their research projects and go through the publication process that basic scientists go through.
In fact, I was astounded to learn how relatively easy it is for MDs to publish their research. Essentially, they just write it up, send it out, and voila! It's accepted.
it has no consequences
Totally bizarre, right? Where's the long wait? Where's the nasty reviews? Where's the arguing with the editor? Where's the political dance you do with your collaborators to avoid citing their boys' club friends just to help cover their asses?
Why no teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling, heavy drinking, suicidal thoughts? Why no threatening fights where your PI says he won't renew your fellowship if you don't make this experiment work the way he wants it to?
No I mean, seriously. They don't even have to have someone sponsor them as a PI. They can just, uh, write it up and publish it. Totally bizarre.
Which I think is probably part of why MDs often don't seem to realize how flawed the basic science literature is, how corrupt, how painstaking the process can be just to get a few years' worth of work out the door.
It's really surprising, in some ways, how some MDs assume, like my parents and probably most laypeople, that basic science is somehow really honest or just slow and that's why it takes so long.
It's not slow at all. Academic basic research is just really really fucked up. That is why publishing takes so long.
In other, better news, there's this new thing that I've been clamoring about for years.
So maybe there's hope for us after all.