I don’t write this to seek attention or to whine. What is in the past is in the past. What I hope to do is give perspective on actions, and to encourage my future physician colleagues to reflect upon and consider the weight of their actions and words.
Shortly after moving to a new province and leaving my social support system three provinces away, I was roasted at an Orientation Week event. It was not a light playful roast as had occurred with other students, comparing them to celebrities, or changing words in their Facebook statuses. It attacked my character and my integrity, even going as far as to compare me to Donald Trump. What was meant to be a satirical post on Facebook to my friends and family, ended up being misconstrued and taken to be pretentious and ‘disgusting’. Just prior to this, my orientation week leader told me to “be prepared to be roasted”. In all honesty, I don’t think anyone could’ve prepared for that. A hall of 200 people to be laughing at your character is not an easy recovery.
After the roast, I would go to chat with new people at the school, and I would be given the cold shoulder or be talked to differently because I was “that facebook douche”. One fellow student, shortly after introducing myself, even said “yeah you’re that really fucking douchey guy”. I became nervous to attend social functions, but I was even more nervous about what would be said of and in my absence. I thought that this would die down, but with every event we had with students from upper years, it seemed to regenerate. In some instances, I tried to ‘own’ the title of pretentious dude. It would get a laugh, but it wasn’t who I was.
I thought about leaving. I strongly considered leaving the program and moving back to BC to work for a year and reapply to other medical schools. My transition to Ontario and to medical school was exponentially more difficult, in part, due to this. I have had struggles with my mental health, and I’ve had issues with self-esteem because of it. I have attended counselling, and I am very thankful for the people around me who have been supportive and have inspired the resilience that was necessary to be reflecting upon this.
Ironically, two hot topics of this year have been physician bullying and medical student mental health. I have experienced (future) physician bullying, and it has contributed to struggles with my mental health as a medical student. Neither topics are surprising to me, as seem to be surprising to the media, the general public, and to medical students themselves.
Looking forward, please take a moment to consider your actions and reflect on how these might have rippling effects. Please consider the accuracy in assessing character that you obtain from a snapshot of someone. Please do not contribute to a mob mentality, and to make decisions for yourself. Humour is not always humorous.