September 28, 2007

So Doctors Are Allowed To Breast Feed

A ridiculous story about a female medical student needing to go to appeals court to get extra time  during the medical licensing exam so she could breast feed her kid.

Here's why it's ridiculous.  If she had ADHD-- which does not exist as a physical entity but is considered an illness-- then she could get extra time.  But because it's a baby-- which does exist, but is not considered an illness-- then she is entitled to nothing.

Maybe this woman is using breastfeeding as an excuse, I don't know, I don't care.  It's breastfeeding-- does it occur to no one that that might be comparatively more important than, say, ADHD? 

Ah, but doesn't the medical board have a valid point?

Board attorney Joseph Savage said he would appeal the ruling, which he said compromised the test's fairness and could force the board to grant extra time to other test-takers with distracting medical conditions, such as men with prostate problems.

You're right, it does open the door to this.  But the problem isn't the woman who wants to breast feed, it's the inanity of an exam where such unrelated issues actually start to matter.  Why should the Boards take all day?  Don't give me the pat answer, "that's they way it is" or "doctors need to go through such grueling days, it builds character."  Is there no more effective way to test knowledge then to see who bores slowest?

Leaving aside the question of whether the licensing exam is actually valid-- that it tests what it says it tests, basic medical knowledge; and ignoring for the moment whether a score of any kind in any way relates to your potential as a doctor; and keeping silent on whether the exam can be "gamed" (I taught for the Princeton Review for USMLE I and II for 5 years)-- why does the exam need to be all day? 

It's amazing to me-- absolutely amazing, and by amazing I mean violently enraging-- that we are so apathetic that no one questions why the exam needs to be that long, that our minds find it easier to jump to whether there are alternatives to breastfeeding-- arguably the last holdout in our collective descent into narcissistic alienation.