It’s ridiculous to compare teacher, medical training

As a former science teacher at Trocaire College, I applaud The News article “Program a prescription for better teacher training” and support Fredonia State’s rigorous academic program as a more effective method for preparing teachers to succeed in their role as educators of children. However, as a medical school grad who studied extremely hard throughout four years of college and four years of medical school, who earned a medical degree and began a family medicine residency, only to struggle with severe anxiety and depression caused/exacerbated by the extraordinary stress inherent of clinical training, I take strong offense to the report’s repeated references to “training more like a doctor.”

Teaching is not easy or stress-free by any means, especially in many urban settings, but it is ridiculous to compare teacher training with the rigors of medical residency. Teachers do not toil 80 to 100 hours per week, 24-hour-long or more shifts with little to no sleep, and have to handle psychologically traumatic medical emergencies such as treating gunshot victims, assisting on complex surgeries, dealing with serious obstetric complications, running codes in a high-charged hospital environment or informing a patient that he/she has a terminal condition and does not have long to live.

I learned the hard way why medical residents are three times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. The damage to my psyche induced by the sleep deprivation and traumatic events of medical training prompting me to reluctantly give up on my long-held dream of becoming a practicing physician. Our society/community urgently needs well-trained, effective teachers, but comparing Fredonia State’s teacher training program to medical residency is nonsense and an insult to every physician who endures clinical training.

Peter McNeela, M.D., M.P.H.