I’m a part of a big-name organization (BNO) at my school. We were selecting the new members a couple weeks ago, and politics came into play – of course. Of course?
I worked in a hospital before medical school and I was shocked when I figured out there were politics between departments. There was some holiday lunch, and some friends in the same position as I, in a different department, invited us. A couple of us in my department went cheerfully. When we were pulled aside by some supervisor in their department and reprimanded for eating their (plentiful) food, I was floored. I told my supervisor about it, and she said, “Yeah, that’s why I didn’t go.” Wow, thanks for letting us know… oh wait, no – just throw us to the wolves. Aren’t we all in this for the same thing – better patient care? Why are we fighting about… food? About territory? About departmental identification? About I-don’t-know-what?
I learned politics are a part of every workplace. Sometimes it’s inappropriate and unprofessional. Sometimes, connections can help you get your foot in the door – but you need to make it to the next step on merit. No one wants to take unqualified Sue just because so-and-so knows unqualified Sue. Right?
Med school, for the most part, is filled with extremely professional people. There’s the occasional whiner who talks back to a professor after an exam about an “unfair question,” or the professor who makes some off-color joke, but this is MEDICAL SCHOOL. It’s serious.
I had friends applying for BNO, so did everyone else in BNO. “Check out so-and-so’s interview, I think s/he’d be great.” These comments gave the rest of us full disclosure and fit into my “connections help you get in the door and get noticed” category. But then – you do how you do in the interview. If you rock it – great – if not, too bad. It was horrifying to me then, when someone who had a terrible interview (that I did not see) got into BNO because of connections (that I do not know) due to conversations (that I did not hear) after the rest of the BNO members had left.
This brings me to my next topic – gossip. I learn a lot about my classmates through gossip. I love hearing gossip. I don’t love sharing gossip. I like to know. People are interesting. Gossip, I realize, has a huge potential to damage people, especially in a professional setting like medical school which is career-centric. So I have my sources I trust, and the few people – mostly unconnected to school – who I trust to talk to. Does this make me a bad person? Unprofessional? It certainly doesn’t make me unique. It’s not like I would ever act, professionally, on gossip. I can’t do anything about BNO since all I know is by hearsay. I might choose not to be besties with the people involved with what I think is a scandal, but I’ll always be professional with them.
What do you think? What are your stories about politics and gossip in professional settings?