The three A’s of medicine determine your success as a doctor. It’s not rocket science (or brain surgery) that the three A’s also translate into success of any service profession. Case in point: attitude can destroy your career even as a hair stylist.
I came across a hair stylist training school today and decided to see what my experience could be like having a trainee cut/style my hair. As a customer, I get a discounted rate by having someone less experienced work on my hair. As the trainee, the stylist in training gets pointers and on the job experience. Sounds like a win-win for both parties…in theory.
The Trainee Model Is Still How We Learn Medicine.
The apprenticeship model has applied to medicine for centuries. When I was a medical student and was offered the opportunity to practice phlebotomy, lumbar punctures, or chest tubes, I took pride in mastering all of the theory, procedure steps, and complications that come from a procedure. This enthusiasm came on top of having had to vie for spot in my medical school class AND pay a $50,000+ annual tuition! All in the name of delayed financial gratification and prestige.
In internship, being selected to assist in cholecystectomies (or even perform one) or allowed to “close up the skin during surgeries” after the attending left the room was an honor. I toiled for hours learning the steps of the incisions, techniques, and closures to show my superiors that it wasn’t a mistake that I was in their training program. I remember that one of the general surgeons was furious that a non-surgical intern (me) was the only person available to assist him on an emergent appendectomy in the middle of the night. It was only after I saved his ass by alerting him that he didn’t fully cauterize the appendicular artery anastomoses before tying off the appendix that he realized that I was not a joke. Mind you, I was commanding a solid $45,000 annual salary while consistently reaching and exceeding the theoretical work hour limits. What a bargain to get such help in the hospital.
Unfortunately, Not Everyone Values The Opportunity of Apprenticeship.
It is unfortunate that not everyone carries a positive attitude in his profession.
My hair stylist was a girl in her 20’s who clearly had no idea what she was doing. She was 10 months into a year-long hair styling program. It was clear that she had neither the coordination nor the knowledge to use a trimmer, scissors, or comb on any client without contorting their neck. After taking 45 minutes to perform what would have otherwise taken 5 minutes, she asked an instructor for help. I wasn’t sure if she was even listening to the instructor. She kept glancing away. She had the wrong attitude.
In the end, I felt bad for my hair stylist in training. She wanted to become a consultant stylist who travels to clients’ locations. Unless her attitude changes she will not get any clients. Perhaps her attitude towards people will change after she opens her business and her livelihood is on the line.
There is a silver lining in this experience.
After my experience with the apathetic hair stylist, I was reminded that as doctors, we are also held to a particular standard for attitude. If we don’t convey a positive outlook towards our patients, we will never succeed not matter how competent we are medically. We are held to an even higher standard than other service professions because many of our clients [read: patients] see us during vulnerable times in their life. We not only have to make them better but also have to provide them a positive experience.
After all, isn’t that why we get paid handsomely? (j/k)