Article

As I See It

Would-be doctors should learn from The King

For a well-rounded physician, less science, more society.

In my town there is an internist who has never referred a patient to me, yet he called my office when he wanted cataract surgery for himself. The next available appointment wasn’t soon enough for him. “You tell Dr. Koch he better call me, and I’ll make him give me an earlier appointment,” he shouted at my receptionist. What an obnoxious jerk, she thought, and not wanting to waste my time, did not relay the message. Good call.

This got me to wondering why there is so much psychopathology in medicine. I mean, really. Ophthalmologists aren’t so bad. Neither are pediatricians. But some other specialties are populated by a very rough crowd.

TO GET THE GIRL ...

For inspiration I turned to one of the senior members of the Witness Protection Program, one E. Presley, singer, actor and clever death faker. I binge watched a pair of his documentaries: “Girls! Girls! Girls!” and “Girl Happy.” Afterwards, I realized the problem in our thus-far male-dominated profession might be girls, or rather the lack thereof that prevents a balanced life.

Some future doctors throw themselves into their studies in high school. Days and nights are whiled away in dimly lit libraries grasping at the profundity of “Catcher in the Rye,” which helped no doctor anywhere. High school is when gawky boys learn to amass the courage to ask out their more sophisticated and mature female classmates, praying they avoid the embarrassment of the dismissive laugh and rejection. Most girls will not go out with losers, so the boy must evolve or stay home.

Eventually our intrepid hero makes it to college, where he could devolve into a primitive if left to himself. Morning classes, afternoon labs and evening study groups could monopolize his time; better is the lad who gets away once in a while with a lass who will help him refine his dress, comportment and conversation.

If romance is in the offing, our hero learns that while he just needs an opportunity, she needs a reason. He must concentrate on his warmth, his smile and his sincerity, all tools that will help him deal with a wide variety of patients in years to come.

If the boy exclusively locks himself in the library, laboratory and dissecting rooms, foregoing dating entirely, he might enter the wider world later with the social maturity of a teen. That, I fear, is the root of many a rude and arrogant physician. Their focused quest for doctorhood gave them book smarts but not people smarts. They missed the lessons one learns from getting slapped in the face by someone who would not tolerate certain behavior.

LIFE LESSONS

The “Trouble with Girls” is that boys need them to help us develop social skills. Whether you are doctor-to-be Frankie or Johnny in “Blue Hawaii” or having “Fun in Acapulco,” if you try the “Tickle Me” maneuver too soon, you may “Spinout” and end up all alone at the “Clambake.” You will be better prepared to “Follow That Dream” if you learn to “Live a Little, Love a Little.” OM