Why your next doctor may be cognitively impaired

model posing as doctor

This is a model, not Amy the failing med student. However, Amy and this model have one thing in common: beauty. Bill speculated that Amy's exceptional appearance may have swayed the male Admissions Committee member who interviewed her to give her an unduly positive recommendation for acceptance. Just conjecture? No, because they dated afterwards.

Would you want a cognitively impaired doctor? No, but some future patients might get one. A neuropsychologist friend, Bill, who performs cognitive assessments on struggling students and elderly people with dementia recently evaluated a medical student (I'll call her Amy) who astounded Bill with her inability to do some things that even average young children can easily do.

Amy is not the only med school dunce. Years ago, I had fun mocking a Harvard medical school grad who didn't know what Styrofoam is. In 1998, in True Emergency Room Stories, I predicted that the increasing noxiousness of medical practice would deter the best and brightest from that profession in the future, forcing medical schools to fill their seats with students who once would have stood a snowball's chance in hell of acceptance. Such as Amy.

Shortly after I made that prediction in my book, the number of people applying to medical school dropped four years in a row—something that once would have been unimaginable. Whether you're running a medical school or a beauty contest, fewer applicants statistically translates into fewer outstanding ones.

You might think professional schools would expel underperforming students, but that isn't always easy to do. An optometry school wanted to boot out one of my friends, Megan, but her parents were rich enough to hire a high-powered lawyer who cowered the school into letting her graduate. Megan was failing in spite of being given crutches such as extra time to complete her tests and patient examinations.

Megan wasn't fond of studying (surprised?) because she had better things to do, such as talk to me on the phone for hours, regaling me with chitchat that I tolerated only because I was fascinated with her beauty and appreciative of her blindness: her eyesight was so poor she thought I looked better than most Hollywood movie stars. Hardly!

I did my best to encourage her to study, but she rebuffed every suggestion. I told her how I graduated in the top 1% of my class in medical school by putting my nose to the grindstone and not dating, but she didn't need to study that much when she had a lawyer who threatened her school with a lawsuit based on their failure to properly accommodate her disability: attention deficit disorder (ADD). She really had no problem with attention, but it was focused on me, not her books. Based on what Megan said, it seemed to me that her school bent over backwards trying to give her crutches I didn't think any professional student should receive.

What that school did for Megan was trivial compared with what a medical school did for its black students. A physician's wife told me that when her husband was a med student, he befriended black classmates after learning the school gave them the tests for the preceding four years before the current exam, which would be comprised of questions taken from tests given the past four years!

Another friend said that black medical students at Harvard were permitted to retake tests.

One of my friends (John) with less-than-stellar grades and MCAT scores was accepted into medical school because he is one-sixteenth Cherokee Indian, which made him a minority in the eyes of the liberals who run that school. John flunked several medical school classes, but the libs had an affirmative action gravy train solution to help struggling minority students: give them a passing grade if they wrote a paper.

John wasn't fond of writing, so he would find a book or journal with intelligently worded text, give it to his girlfriend and tell her where to start and stop copying. She would dutifully type the material verbatim, and John would submit this plagiarized material as his own. The liberal staff never detected this plagiarism (making me wonder how many books and journals they read!), so they awarded John an MD degree after four years of successfully pulling the wool over the eyes of his professors. This permitted John to spend less time studying and more time watching soap operas and studying the anatomy of his amazingly beautiful girlfriend, not human anatomy as taught in medical school.

One of my black medical school classmates had a tough time getting into medical school, and a tough time in it. He was rejected nine years in a row and flunked the first year after he was accepted. I was surprised that he wasn't expelled, as many other underperforming students were. When I think of him and the aforementioned black medical students who were given crutches that should scare the bejesus out of patients, I wonder what planet Al Sharpton was on when he claimed that blacks are disproportionately unemployed because of “institutional racism.

As an undergraduate at Michigan State University (MSU), I worked for their Office of Supportive Services (OSS) tutoring primarily minority students. This gave me the opportunity to discover that MSU had certain class sections hidden from other students—and hence inaccessible—because they were not listed in the course catalog. Certain sections were reserved for athletes, and others were reserved for minorities. Students in those classes were guaranteed a passing grade if they merely showed up for the exam and signed their name. If the students attempted to answer any question, they were given a B, and if they got any question correct (even by random chance guessing), they were awarded an A.

On a multiple choice exam with four choices per question, students with zero knowledge of the subject average a score of 25%, given the laws of statistics. Considering the above MSU academic scam criteria, the chance that a minority would be awarded an A on an exam increases with the number of questions on that exam. For example, if a test consisted of one multiple choice question with four options, one in four no-nothing students would receive an A grade. With 30 questions, over 99.9% of no-nothing students would demonstrate their mastery of the material by randomly picking at least one correct response. Given the propensity of my chickens to randomly peck at things, even they could get at least one question correct on a typical multiple choice exam.

Al Sharpton conveniently ignores facts like these, which point to anything but “institutional racism.” Institutions are doing far more than they should to help some blacks succeed, but by doing that, they are unfairly penalizing black students who don't accept degrees awarded to them on a silver platter.

I went to medical school at a time when physicians didn't need to worry about ObamaCare Nazis eager to heavily fine or imprison doctors who don't do what Washington bureaucrats order them to do (another link). I just had to worry about repaying my student loans, postponing my love life and other fun for a decade, fueling my body with enough caffeine to work 110 hours per week, and spending Christmas and other holidays with drunks who hadn't bathed in years, instead of my family. Now that tuition has skyrocketed and Obama is giving doctors nightmares, it is easy to see how the best and brightest students will be smart enough to find ways to make a good living without being whacked around like a piñata in medicine.

Where will that leave you? With more cognitively impaired doctors like Amy. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

The views expressed on this page may or may not reflect my current opinions, nor do they necessarily represent my past ones. After reading a slice of what I wrote in my various websites and books, you may conclude that I am a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. Wrong; there is a better alternative. Just as the primary benefit from debate classes results when students present and defend opinions contrary to their own, I use a similar strategy as a creative writing tool to expand my brainpower—and yours. Mystified? Stay tuned for an explanation. PS: The wheels in your head are already turning a bit faster, aren't they?

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reference: Imagining dialogue can boost critical thinking: Excerpt: “Examining an issue as a debate or dialogue between two sides helps people apply deeper, more sophisticated reasoning …”

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