Thursday, April 16, 2009

Professional Development

I sat on a panel today for premeds for the first time. They asked questions about (see if you can guess) getting into medical school. Would it look bad if I ____? Would doing ____ help me get in?

After about an hour, I got frustrated. They had become slaves; they were living their lives for admissions committees. Every decision they made was made with a committee's opinion in mind. In considering a volunteer opportunity at a hospital, the only end for one of the students was medical school. No thought was put into the impact he could make or the virtue in humble service. The decision was entirely based on how it would look. Eventually my frustration boiled over and I said to them, "Who cares if you get into medical school? Do what is right and what is good. If you get into medical school, great."

I strive to live by my own words, to do things for the goodness of them rather than how it would make me look. But I am a fallen man. I have not consistently maintained this attitude. But I recognize it as sin. I don't think these students see their attitude towards medical school as a problem. And that is frightening.

Though their end is a theoretical good ("Helping people"), it seems that it is achieved by four years of disregard for goodness, efficacy and excellence. Though the best applicants are those who do pursue goodness (it has been my experience that Stanford, being incredibly selective, includes mostly this sort of student), many (perhaps most) who go to medical school are those who were best able to please admissions committees. And these are the men and women who become doctors. Are we surprised that doctors, when they become doctors, are not passionate about the good, are not ruthlessly efficient and cost-controlling, and are not always role models of excellent human beings? Perhaps our selection process is filtering out those who would are Good in favor of those who are good at pleasing others.

Why are so many striving for this end? I think a part of it is power. Doctors command a power and a respect in our society that is rivaled by few. Those who care about 'medical service' rarely even consider DO school (which arguably give better clinical training), because we'd only get DO behind our name and not the coveted MD. MD's have more power than DO's. And Harvard MD's have more social power than UCLA MD's. Even I am guilty of desiring this power. You might ask, "But isn't it power for a good end?" It is. At least at first. The trick is keeping one's focus on the Good; good intentions can quickly devolve. Even if the start is noble, the Good can get lost in the pursuit of power.

There is a great danger in living one's life to please men. This is a warning I need to remember myself. Though my career is a valid consideration, the Good is ever what I ought to strive for. Too often I do not think, "What is the best thing I can do here? What is Right?" and instead think, "How do I make myself look good to those who will evaluate me?" My decisions are too often made with respect to the opinions of others disregarding God. Too often I fear man rather than God. And then I euphemize my sin and call it, "Professional Development."

Pro 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

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