Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The 'Pimping' of Medical Students

The term 'pimping' is not a term that I've previously heard used in hospitals, medical schools, or clinical ethics rounds, but apparently is a term that's gaining popularity: it is being used in the medical profession to describe the process of enticing respect for the medical intern's superiors and to rid the intern of unwarranted self esteem.

The article, "The Art of Pimping" was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 and then the website Neonatology on the Web, picked up the article in 2005: it suggests (tongue-in-cheek) that every 'newly appointed attending must teach himself how to pimp.'

The question is does grilling medical students with questions make them into better doctors? How do we, as patients, benefit from such a bizarre practice?


Kevin T. Keith said...

I heard that term (and was threatened with a "pimping" when, as an observing ethicist, I persisted in asking awkward questions) at a teaching hospital back in the mid-90s.

LifeEthics.org said...

All current and former scutmonkeys know this common medical teaching, harrassment or hazing technique. The purpose and manner depends on who's pimping whom and how many witnesses there are. Sometimes pimping is just used to establish or maintain the pecking order: students/ interns/ resident/ fellow/ attending, etc.
Theoretically, at least, the upper levels know more than the lower levels.
Questions are asked until the lower level proves that he is smarter or - the prefered result for malignant upper levels - is a quivering mess and can be dismissed. If the upper level is powerful enough (can control access to the operating room or assign an increased patient load, etc.) it really doesn't matter how great the answers are. One of the favorite techniques is to criticize the use of jargon, eponyms, or even pronunciation.