The school has just published the sobering results of the surveys over the last 13 years. While there appears to have been a slight drop in the numbers of students who report experiencing mistreatment, more than half of all medical students still said that they had been intimidated or physically or verbally harassed.
...U.C.L.A.’s experience is not isolated. In fact, national medical education surveys that include questions about mistreatment indicate that the environment at that school is about average. And the striking similarity of experiences across a generation of students suggests problems not just with one institution, but with the culture of medical training itself. “This is a national problem,” Ms. Fried said. “Our faculty and doctors-in-training come from all over, including schools where some of them might have been mistreated.”I'm not going to pretend that this sort of behavior doesn't happen in chemistry. People act inappropriately and unprofessionally everywhere, unfortunately. Humans love status competition, and some people will play the game as awfully as they can get away with. What I was really surprised at was the level of physical intimidation that was happening, as mentioned in the original published study:
A cardiology fellow slapped my hand when I was unable to answer an EKG question and said: “If teaching doesn’t help you learn, then pain will.”
I was walking (slowly apparently) in front of my intern. She was frustrated and pushed me forward with both of her hands on my shoulders, saying: “walk faster!”Wow. That's completely out of line. I've never seen that (physical intimidation) in my time in chemistry; I'm sure the comments will produce some awful stories. (I hope not, but...)
Verbal abuse, of course, is a different story. Every intern, graduate student, postdoc, entry-level chemist, etc. has at least one stinging put down stored away in their memories. Our minds are very good at torturing ourselves with even the mildest of negative comments, however accurate or inaccurate (one reason why I think that physical intimidation is so over-the-top inappropriate.) While I've never had anyone yell at me that "You're the worst chemist I've never met!" or "I'm going to kill you" or whatever, I have my share of stories on that front. (None recently, thank God.)
Note, especially to relatively junior people: It is possible that you may encounter this sort of behavior. It is wrong! It is not your fault. Unfortunately, it may not even have anything to do with you, as a person, as opposed to your status in whatever hierarchy that you're in. An organization that puts up with that kind of behavior, especially the more severe kind, is not an organization that you want to be a part of.
It's my sincere hope that, as time goes on, that this sort of behavior (verbal abuse, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, racial comments) happens less and less in workplaces. I don't believe that verbal abuse produces better physicians and it certainly doesn't produce better chemists.