When the Bully Is a Doctor

Why healers hurt one another

[W]hen I was a medical student … I spent two months on the surgery service. The days were rigorous, starting before 5 a.m., when I was expected at the hospital to round … I then scrubbed in to the first operating room case of the day, at 7 a.m. Depending on the complexity of the procedure, we wouldn’t emerge from the O.R. for hours, biologic needs such as going to the bathroom or eating be damned … I typically surfaced from the hospital at dusk, completely exhausted.

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Unless I dared to inquire when we would be done with rounds.

“Whenever you ask me ‘When will we round out?’” the surgical fellow told me and the other medical students, more than once, “I will make it one hour later.” This was said unsmilingly, and he delivered on his promise.

Our supervisor’s behavior was a form of bullying, and not the last time in my career that I would face it.

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Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS, shares personal stories of bullying early in his career and alarming data about its prevalence in medicine in this New York Times column.

Dr. Sekeres is Director of Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center’s Leukemia Program. You can follow him on Twitter @MikkaelSekeres.