PPOTD: Poor Question Etiquette

PPOTD (short for “Pet Peeve Of The Day”) was a long-running email series between me and some of my college friends, generally centered around ridiculous stuff that happened to us in our various office jobs. I’ll resurrect it from time to time, when I’m feeling particularly peeved.

Today’s PPOTD is Ridiculous Question Asking. In response to some particularly outrageous questions at various didactic sessions over the last few months, I thought I’d outline how to (and how not to) ask questions during medical school. MS1’s, in particular, please pay close attention. These tips will reduce your classmates’ collective desire to stab you in the eyeballs with pokey sticks.

1. Keep it short. We are paying to hear our professors speak – not you – so limit ALL questions to 25 words or less (that’s 15 seconds of asking).

2. Use google, first. Never ask a professor a straightforward factual question (“What is the preferred treatment for Group-B strep? What spinal nerve root controls dorsiflexion, again?”). On rounds, be particularly careful never to reverse-pimp your attending, as they may respond with a vengeance. Questions about a clinical decision, even if factual, are acceptable.

3.Don’t EVER ask questions after class-time is over but before class is dismissed. If you see that everyone else is ready to go, HOLD your question until AFTER your classmates are dismissed, then go up to the professor/attending and ask your question directly.

4. Three questions per person, per session UNLESS they are long questions (>25 words), in which case you get 1-2. Any further questions should be asked after class is dismissed.

5. Don’t be a gunner. Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking questions. You won’t impress your professors, or your classmates, but you WILL look like an a-hole.

Carry on!

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One Response to PPOTD: Poor Question Etiquette

  1. AndromedaMed says:

    One time I asked a question in class, and my professor told me to “Google it.” But it wasn’t a question that was easily Google-able. It was about a specific enzyme of Biochem – not something I can easily search for. I was not amused.

    But in other news, I like your tips. Agreed.

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