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Hey, I'm new to these forums, and objectivism in general, but I'm reading as much as I can on these forums to learn about it. I have a question for anybody that has ever applied to medical school or is familiar with the process: Is there any way to fill out the apps and remain objectivist? They virtually require volunteer experience, which I have done but it wasn't because I wanted to it was because the application boards want to see it. Now I find myself talking about my volunteer experiences in a way that glorifies altruism, which makes me want to puke as I write it. However, I feel as if they have to hear this stuff in order to accept me into med school. Anybody been through something similar before?

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Volunteering is not explicitly anti=Objectivist. it only is non-Objectivist when it is something you care little for but do for others. I did volunteer work but it was for a cause I liked and i benefited from having a personal stake in it.

If you were volunteering at something you cared about just emphasize your passion for it and how it relates to your future in the medical field, not your selflessness.

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Is there any way to fill out the apps and remain objectivist?
You should try to talk to an Objectivist MD. There are two separate questions: what do you have to do to get admitted to medical school, and is there something about the nature of medical practice that is incompatible with your fundamental values. Personally, I think you would be better off discussing your volunteer experiences honestly, without presuming that they demand you leap on a self-sacrificial pyre.
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Volunteering is not explicitly anti=Objectivist. it only is non-Objectivist when it is something you care little for but do for others. I did volunteer work but it was for a cause I liked and i benefited from having a personal stake in it.

If you were volunteering at something you cared about just emphasize your passion for it and how it relates to your future in the medical field, not your selflessness.

I agree. The volunteer work that I did for myself and completely enjoyed was walking dogs for a humane society. I did other volunteer work specifically related to medicine, but unfortunately I did that because I felt that I had to. I wasn't going to talk about the former, because I didn't think it related to medicine at all. But, I guess that just doing volunteer work that I cared about is probably a good thing to mention. I'll try to work it in somehow

You should try to talk to an Objectivist MD. There are two separate questions: what do you have to do to get admitted to medical school, and is there something about the nature of medical practice that is incompatible with your fundamental values. Personally, I think you would be better off discussing your volunteer experiences honestly, without presuming that they demand you leap on a self-sacrificial pyre.

Thank you for your response. While I do not believe that the nature of the medical practice is incompatible with my values, I do believe that the fact that I did this volunteer work because I felt that I had to is against my (new-found)values, which is why I have a hard time talking about it now. If I were to talk about these volunteer experiences honestly, I would say that I did not want to do them, which is not something I should disclose to a school that is considering me. So, I think my choice is to make up a story about how they were important to me as a future doctor, or omit those experiences which I did not do for myself.

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However, I feel as if they have to hear this stuff in order to accept me into med school.
I would not assume this of the person reading your resume. Regardless of why you did what you did, there were probably some things that you learnt from that, things that might be relevant to your future in medicine, or even in life as such. If you can bring this out, with passion a reader can feel, you'll probably be better served than if you are seen as just reciting things you think are expected of you.
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I would not assume this of the person reading your resume. Regardless of why you did what you did, there were probably some things that you learnt from that, things that might be relevant to your future in medicine, or even in life as such. If you can bring this out, with passion a reader can feel, you'll probably be better served than if you are seen as just reciting things you think are expected of you.

This is really good advice, because I can think of a couple of things that I got out of these experiences that will help me as a future doctor. I guess my reasons for doing the work can be made irrelevant by focusing on positive outcomes of it.

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While I do not believe that the nature of the medical practice is incompatible with my values, I do believe that the fact that I did this volunteer work because I felt that I had to is against my (new-found)values, which is why I have a hard time talking about it now.
Well, is it your intent to dedicate yourself professionally to alleviating human suffering?
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No promise, but perhaps what Dr. Peikoff says in his podcast, Episode 64 -- June 01, 2009, in response to the following will be of some help:

06:54: "My friend was interviewed at a Canadian medical school, and during the interview he was asked how he would inprove wait times. His instinct was to suggest privatizing health care, but he knew that he would never get accepted to the program if he answered honesty, so he started talking about different political mechanisms to improve the situation. Was that a moral act considering that all medical schools are government funded and the professors support altruism? Also, how will he survive the ethics class without antagonizing the professors if he used Objectivist ethics?"

Edited by Trebor
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Well, is it your intent to dedicate yourself professionally to alleviating human suffering?

I plan to be a doctor because I have always been drawn to human physiology, and especially the fact that outcomes involving the human body can be, in essence, controlled through science and medicine. If alleviating human suffering, on some scale, is a natural by-product of that, so be it. However, it is not a reason why a chose the profession.

No promise, but perhaps what Dr. Peikoff says in his podcast, Episode 64 -- June 01, 2009, in response to the following will be of some help:

06:54: "My friend was interviewed at a Canadian medical school, and during the interview he was asked how he would inprove wait times. His instinct was to suggest privatizing health care, but he knew that he would never get accepted to the program if he answered honesty, so he started talking about different political mechanisms to improve the situation. Was that a moral act considering that all medical schools are government funded and the professors support altruism? Also, how will he survive the ethics class without antagonizing the professors if he used Objectivist ethics?"

Hmm interesting. I'll have to start listening to his podcasts.

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I just noticed this site, The Lucidicus Project, mentioned on The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans by PhilO.

"The Lucidicus Project is an independent educational initiative designed to encourage medical students to learn more about the foundations of capitalism and individual rights, and consider how these ideas apply to healthcare and medicine." (From their web site.)

Edited by Trebor
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I just noticed this site, The Lucidicus Project, mentioned on The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans by PhilO.

"The Lucidicus Project is an independent educational initiative designed to encourage medical students to learn more about the foundations of capitalism and individual rights, and consider how these ideas apply to healthcare and medicine." (From their web site.)

Wow, this looks great. I sent an email requesting the Kit. Thank you

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I plan to be a doctor because I have always been drawn to human physiology, and especially the fact that outcomes involving the human body can be, in essence, controlled through science and medicine. If alleviating human suffering, on some scale, is a natural by-product of that, so be it. However, it is not a reason why a chose the profession.
Suppose you were introduced to two doctors who had the same skill in diagnosis, but one had the view you just described while the other had the view that his or her purpose is not just to enjoy the scientific aspect but also, or even primarily, to alleviate suffering and promote well being. All other things being equal, which doctor would you choose to be your own doctor?
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Suppose you were introduced to two doctors who had the same skill in diagnosis, but one had the view you just described while the other had the view that his or her purpose is not just to enjoy the scientific aspect but also, or even primarily, to alleviate suffering and promote well being. All other things being equal, which doctor would you choose to be your own doctor?

Good question. I will answer it twice.

My first answer is that you have created an impossible scenario. The doctor who has chosen the profession solely for the scientific aspect will always have better skill (in diagnosis and other aspects of the profession) because he has chosen something that HE wants to learn as much about as possible because it interests HIM. So, the skills of the two types of doctors will not be equal.

[Edit- Think Roark vs. Keating. Who was the better architect?]

But, I will go ahead and answer your question anyway. I would rather have the doctor who has chosen the profession primarily for the scientific aspect. He will be less emotional during the process of treating, he will put less pressure on himself to "alleviate the suffering" of the patient, and he will make clearer choices because of it.

Edited by Alex H
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Hey, I'm new to these forums, and objectivism in general, but I'm reading as much as I can on these forums to learn about it. I have a question for anybody that has ever applied to medical school or is familiar with the process: Is there any way to fill out the apps and remain objectivist? They virtually require volunteer experience, which I have done but it wasn't because I wanted to it was because the application boards want to see it. Now I find myself talking about my volunteer experiences in a way that glorifies altruism, which makes me want to puke as I write it. However, I feel as if they have to hear this stuff in order to accept me into med school. Anybody been through something similar before?

Welcome to the real world. Sometimes if you want something, you need to keep your opinion to yourself and tell people what they want to hear. I can't even count how many times I had to deal with liberal professors and just keep my mouth shut. These people hold the future of your career in their hands. If you were on an equal footing with them, then by all means let your opinion fly, but you do not have an equal relationship with an admissions board. Unfortunately, that is the real world of college.

My favorite experience with this was a very liberal professor I had for my Nazi history class. He was always making comments about how various Nazi tactics were very similar to the Bush administration. I just wanted to throw my desk over his stupid comments, but I just kept my mouth shut, and told him what he wanted to hear in my essays. It was painful, but I got an A.

In a sense, doing that is a good lesson and is also very Objectivist: learning how to manipulate idiots for your own self interest. :lol:

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you have created an impossible scenario. The doctor who has chosen the profession solely for the scientific aspect will always have better skill (in diagnosis and other aspects of the profession) because he has chosen something that HE wants to learn as much about as possible because it interests HIM. So, the skills of the two types of doctors will not be equal.
That is not necessarily true. The doctor whose motivation includes the well-being of others may be just as motivated to learn the scientific aspect (moreover, he too may have his own intrinsic interest in the scientific aspect): or, in a particular case, the well-being motivated doctor might be more talented naturally while the solely scientific minded doctor had to study harder to catch up so that they wind up equally skilled. The hypothetical is that they are both equally skilled but one happens to care about the well being of the patients. That is not impossible.

But, I will go ahead and answer your question anyway. I would rather have the doctor who has chosen the profession primarily for the scientific aspect. He will be less emotional during the process of treating, he will put less pressure on himself to "alleviate the suffering" of the patient, and he will make clearer choices because of it.
Again, that doesn't necessarily follow. The person who cares about well being may be very good at thinking clearly. Just because he cares about the well being of his patients doesn't entail that he can't reason just as clearly as any other doctor.

Doctor Williams: Hello, Mr. Patient. You have brain cancer. This requires a highly skilled operation. It is a very difficult operation. You could die or be left with severe brain damage. Let me introduce to you two surgeons so that you can choose for yourself. They're both equally skilled; in fact, their records of success in surgery are virtually identical. But they have somewhat different views of medicine. I'll let them speak for themselves:

Doctor Jones: Thank you. As Doctor Williams mentioned, even though this is a very complicated operation, my own success rate in such surgeries is quite high. My motivation for being a doctor includes two different aspects: I am interested in the human body and in the knowledge and technology that works to affect changes on the human body, and I wish to alleviate human suffering and promote the well being of people. Hard for me to say which is the more important motivation, or even whether I can separate them. The point though is that my success in medicine has been a function of those two basic interests. By the way, since I do very much care about the suffering of people, I clearly recognize the importance of being calm headed, objective, and scientific about their treatment. That is, compassion should not interfere with clear thinking, while still compassion is a motivation.

Doctor Smith. Thank you. As Doctor Williams mentioned, I too am highly successful in such surgeries. My motivation for being a doctor is virtually all scientific; I am interested in the human body and in the knowledge and technology that works to affect changes on the body. As to alleviating human suffering and promoting well being, I basically don't care about that, except to the extent that it is a measure of scientific success. Don't get me wrong, if you survive this surgery and come out healthy, that's okay with me, but my main interest in performing this surgery is not in whether your suffering is alleviated or your life extended, but rather in seeing another live human brain and working on it as part of my scientific goals. So, to be candid with you, I really barely care about you - as another colleague of mine said, if your well being is improved by this surgery, then so be it, but my real stake in this is basically all as scientific endeavor.

Mr. Patient: You're joking, right? Please tell me that you're joking...some kind of weird sense of humor.

Doctor Smith: No, I assure you I am not joking. Ever hear the story of Howard Roark and Peter Keating? I'm your Howard Roark here.

Mr. Patient: Nurse! Get me my clothes and belongings! I'm checking out of this place!

Edited by Hodges'sPodges
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In a sense, doing that is a good lesson and is also very Objectivist: learning how to manipulate idiots for your own self interest. :pimp:

"Manipulating idiots"? Screeeeeech! What? No! Objectivism means being true to reality, which also means respecting the rights of others. There are very well set out virtues, seven primary virtues. Your goal is to further your own life according to you values in accordance with reality. Fooling others is not part of that, except in rare circumstances, e.g. you're being held hostage.

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First of all, thank you for making me think about this on a deeper level than I am used to.

Let me explain my thoughts on the two types of doctors and their reasons for wanting to go to medical school

Doctor 1: I am fascinated by how the human body works and I want to learn everything that I can about how to treat it through science and medicine. If I don't understand something in one of my classes, I am going to do everything that I can to master it because it is interesting to me and I have an urge to know.

Doctor 2: I really want to help people for a living, so I am going to be a doctor. I hate seeing people in pain and I want to alleviate their suffering. If I don't understand something in one of my classes, it's not that important because I am in this line of work to interact with people and to make sure they are as comfortable as possible as my patients.

This is two ends of the spectrum, and I'm sure a lot of doctors have a mix of the two. But, when people talk about joining the field of medicine to "alleviate human suffering" or "to help people," I always think of Doctor #2. In this light, I would rather have Doctor #1 treating me every time.

BUT, as a doctor who is joining the field to learn as much about medicine as possible, I EXPECT the outcome of my work to be the alleviation of my patients' suffering, because that will mean that I did a good job in learning the scientific aspect of medicine. If I do something that makes the suffering of my patient worse (which happens to all doctors at some point), then I will question my technique and refine it for the next time, if necessary. Notice the difference though- alleviating the suffering of my patient is NOT my MOTIVATION for doing the job, but it is my expectation that it will occur. With this in mind, I will add my two cents to your amazing skit :pimp:

As to alleviating human suffering and promoting well being, I basically don't care about that, except to the extent that it is a measure of scientific success. Don't get me wrong, if you survive this surgery and come out healthy, that's okay with me, but my main interest in performing this surgery is not in whether your suffering is alleviated or your life extended, but rather in seeing another live human brain and working on it as part of my scientific goals. So, to be candid with you, I really barely care about you - as another colleague of mine said, if your well being is improved by this surgery, then so be it, but my real stake in this is basically all as scientific endeavor.

This is different than what I am saying. I do care about alleviating the person's suffering, because it is a benchmark for how good I am at my profession (This is true for any doctor in the country- the more successful times you do a surgery, the more popular you become for it and the more patients you receive). So I would say something like "Due to the fact that I am very good at what I do, I expect you to have the best chance of surviving this operation, and consequently alleviating your suffering, if you choose me as your doctor."

Ever hear the story of Howard Roark and Peter Keating? I'm your Howard Roark here.

I would hope that anybody who has heard the story of Howard Roark and Peter Keating would WANT to hear this statement.

And, finally, to answer your question again (in a different way), if you have two doctors of equal skill level, I guess it doesn't really matter who does my surgery. Their motivations are irrelevant if they are equal in skill.

I hope this made some sense, and again, thank you for making me think of this on a deeper level!

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Let me explain my thoughts on the two types of doctors and their reasons for wanting to go to medical school

Doctor 1: I am fascinated by how the human body works and I want to learn everything that I can about how to treat it through science and medicine. If I don't understand something in one of my classes, I am going to do everything that I can to master it because it is interesting to me and I have an urge to know.

Doctor 2: I really want to help people for a living, so I am going to be a doctor. I hate seeing people in pain and I want to alleviate their suffering. If I don't understand something in one of my classes, it's not that important because I am in this line of work to interact with people and to make sure they are as comfortable as possible as my patients.

This is two ends of the spectrum, and I'm sure a lot of doctors have a mix of the two. But, when people talk about joining the field of medicine to "alleviate human suffering" or "to help people," I always think of Doctor #2. In this light, I would rather have Doctor #1 treating me every time.

But, as you said, those are two polar ends of a particular spectrum. One does not expect to find a doctor who is described as being one of those two polar ends. And, as to my hypothetical, now you're changing it and thus addressing a different hypothetical.

BUT, as a doctor who is joining the field to learn as much about medicine as possible, I EXPECT the outcome of my work to be the alleviation of my patients' suffering, because that will mean that I did a good job in learning the scientific aspect of medicine. If I do something that makes the suffering of my patient worse (which happens to all doctors at some point), then I will question my technique and refine it for the next time, if necessary. Notice the difference though- alleviating the suffering of my patient is NOT my MOTIVATION for doing the job, but it is my expectation that it will occur.
Yes, that is all as much as made clear enough in my skit.

This is different than what I am saying. I do care about alleviating the person's suffering, because it is a benchmark for how good I am at my profession (This is true for any doctor in the country- the more successful times you do a surgery, the more popular you become for it and the more patients you receive). So I would say something like "Due to the fact that I am very good at what I do, I expect you to have the best chance of surviving this operation, and consequently alleviating your suffering, if you choose me as your doctor."
No, this is not different from my skit. I explicitly mentioned just what you said in my skit.

I would hope that anybody who has heard the story of Howard Roark and Peter Keating would WANT to hear this statement.
I sure wouldn't if, as in the skit, it were a followup to a doctor telling me that my recovery is expected but only valued in terms of benchmarks of your medical skill.

And, finally, to answer your question again (in a different way), if you have two doctors of equal skill level, I guess it doesn't really matter who does my surgery. Their motivations are irrelevant if they are equal in skill.
Sure, of course that immediately occurs to one as soon as one hears the hypothetical. But the point of the hypothetical is that I would venture that even given the reasoning just mentioned, most people would not tolerate being told (notwithstanding appreciation of the honesty) by their doctor or surgeon that the person's well being is merely an expected result and only a goal to the extent that the doctor wishes to meet and exceed certain medical-scientific benchmarks. So are people merely irrational in that respect, or, possibly, is there some reasonable underlying basis to prefer not to have such a person operating on your brain?

Here's another skit:

Scott Scout (he's a baseball scout): Well, boss, I found two guys who I think could really do a great job for us at third base next year. Their stats are virtually identical! Amazing as that is. Their both equally skilled and healthy ball players, as far as I can tell. And they're both highly motivated. I really can't see any difference; might as well just toss a coin to decide which one to sign. Oh, except one difference. They have somewhat different philosophy of sports. I'll let them tell you, boss.

Issac Intrinsic: I play ball for the purpose of playing the best I can play. I expect to win, but that is only because winning is a function of my playing at my best. What motivates me is the development of my skills, developing new techniques of hitting and fielding, and their application in competition against other skilled players. I mean that's about it. I think you'll win the championship this year with me, but, as I said, that's only a distant, secondary motivation for me.

Wally Winner: I play ball for all the reasons that Issac plays, but also a main motivation for me is winning. I want to win not just because it indexes my athletic skill, but also because it just makes me feel good to win and also it makes me feel good knowing that I've contributed to the joy of my teammates and the fans through our victory. I'll play my very best for you, because that is a goal onto itself and because I want to help bring a championship to this team.

Ozzie Owner: Well, thank you gentlemen for sharing your interesting perspectives. Mr. Intrinsic, my secretary will validate your parking, thanks for stopping by, and good luck. Now, Wally, what we had in mind is a signing bonus to go with your starting salary....

Edited by Hodges'sPodges
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"Manipulating idiots"? Screeeeeech! What? No! Objectivism means being true to reality, which also means respecting the rights of others. There are very well set out virtues, seven primary virtues. Your goal is to further your own life according to you values in accordance with reality. Fooling others is not part of that, except in rare circumstances, e.g. you're being held hostage.

I take it you've never had a liberal professor before? When someone holds your future in their hands (through your grades in this case) then there is nothing wrong with doing what is necessary to just get through the class. My dad tried that way of thinking when he was in school and ended up getting D's from that type of professor.

In an ideal world you can voice your opinion to a professor and disagree with him. But sadly, modern universities are a liberal stronghold, and professors aren't always fair. It's unrealistic to think you can always express your opinion, no matter how right you are. If expressing your opinion will interfere with accomplishing your goal, then it is not Objectivist because it is not in your self interest.

Edited by skap35
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I take it you've never had a liberal professor before? When someone holds your future in their hands (through your grades in this case) then there is nothing wrong with doing what is necessary to just get through the class. My dad tried that way of thinking when he was in school and ended up getting D's from that type of professor.

In an ideal world you can voice your opinion to a professor and disagree with him. But sadly, modern universities are a liberal stronghold, and professors aren't always fair. It's unrealistic to think you can always express your opinion, no matter how right you are. If expressing your opinion will interfere with accomplishing your goal, then it is not Objectivist because it is not in your self interest.

I have had such professors and I understand the problem -- although some do allow you to express your opinion, as I have done so without problem -- but manipulating implies you are acting unjustly and deviously. They are pro-actively acting to get in your way and you're trying to get around their unjustness. You are not pro-actively acting to get in their way.

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Hey, I'm new to these forums, and objectivism in general, but I'm reading as much as I can on these forums to learn about it. I have a question for anybody that has ever applied to medical school or is familiar with the process: Is there any way to fill out the apps and remain objectivist? They virtually require volunteer experience, which I have done but it wasn't because I wanted to it was because the application boards want to see it. Now I find myself talking about my volunteer experiences in a way that glorifies altruism, which makes me want to puke as I write it. However, I feel as if they have to hear this stuff in order to accept me into med school. Anybody been through something similar before?

Treat your volunteer experience as a selfish means of gaining exposure to the medical profession. Discuss what you learned and how it reinforces your desire to pursue a medical career. Make it all about yourself and your own ideas. No need to babble about serving others- and trust me, a lot of applicants will be doing exactly that. You can set yourself apart by taking a selfish angle. Just don't actually say the word 'selfish' or get needlessly ideological on them and you should be fine.

Edited by cliveandrews
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  • 7 months later...
I plan to be a doctor because I have always been drawn to human physiology, and especially the fact that outcomes involving the human body can be, in essence, controlled through science and medicine. If alleviating human suffering, on some scale, is a natural by-product of that, so be it. However, it is not a reason why a chose the profession.

Even alleviating human suffering can be considered a part of the physiological process, regarding the impact of stress hormones, and self destructive behavior.

Ayn Rand expressed that anyone who wants to study Objectivism should seriously ask themselves of the relation between reason and emotion.

It's unrealistic to think you can always express your opinion, no matter how right you are. If expressing your opinion will interfere with accomplishing your goal, then it is not Objectivist because it is not in your self interest.

While it's true that it isn't your job to challenge such a professor or change his mind, it could be to your benefit to do so. Not for his sake, but for your own.

Imagine you were to uphold your Objectivist right to reality by addressing your experience After you have gotten your 'A' (by sending your professor a letter regarding your experience) his opinion of your philosophy could be marred by your initial dishonesty. Disregarding a person's rational faculty is dangerous and irrational. Treating someone as though they are incapable of understanding you will guarantee the effect.

There is another aspect of your 'A' that that can apply to any future arguments you choose to engage in. The professor understands that you understand their course completely. If you would have challenged him from the onset it would give them an excuse to pretend you don't really understand what he is talking about. Once you have your 'A' he can not as easily disregard your argument.

There have been times when I have refrained from challenging the opposition. I wanted to be more prepared because I understand how a bad argument will do more to hurt my cause than to help it.

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