I haven’t had too many opportunities to teach during my postdoc, at least not in the classroom, but I have led my fair share of med student labs. The first few involved second-year med students – up against their board exams and stressed out beYOND belief. While several of the students were bright and hardworking, a few drove me crazy with their obsession about the impending boards. Why are we studying this, it won’t be on the boards. or That’s not the answer in my practice book. or This is a waste of my time, can we leave? By the end of my first round of teaching, I’d have rather shot myself in the head than take a job where I’d be responsible for instructing these guys again.
My more recent teaching experiences, however, have been with first-year med students, and what a difference! Aside from the fact that many of these guys were scared to death of doing something wrong (exactly how long should I wash with water after the third step of the Gram stain?), they were SO. MUCH. FUN! Talk about excited about EVERYTHING. And they really wanted to please all their instructors (including little ol’ me). As soon as they figured out that messing up was allowed in the lab (it’s okay if you kill bacteria), and that I’d rather them make a mistake while figuring out the best way to do things instead of following a formulaic list of procedures, they were fanTAStic.
I now think I could handle teaching at a med school…so long as some of these younger, more fun students are mixed in with the older, stressed-out bores.