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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education

Residents Just Want to Have Fun

Life as a pathology resident is very different now to when I experienced it 40 years ago at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Back then, it was common for trainees to eat meals with their attendings, sharing anecdotes over food and drink, and to visit each other’s homes for simple fellowship. We had a lot of fun during training. One of the buildings on the Mayo Clinic campus was next to a burger restaurant, so the residents stationed there had the duty of collecting lunch orders for the entire group. We would then use the pneumatic tube system to send hamburgers and French fries to people in other buildings (no drinks though – too messy!).

There was also an organization at Mayo Clinic called the Fellows’ Film Society. Trainees decided what films to show (usually classics or world cinema) and the Mayo Foundation kindly let us use one of its large auditoriums. Viewing was open to the public (we charged a modest admission fee) and the auditorium was full for most showings. One night, we chose to show a “world cinema” film that backfired badly. No one on the society staff had previewed the German film with an intriguing name and, once the movie got going, it turned out to be X-rated, complete with German subtitles. The auditorium emptied like it was on fire and all the admission fees had to be returned!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but, after a long and fulfilling career, I can share some advice that has served me well over the years – and that I think will serve the next generation, too.

  1. Work hard. You will not succeed in life by cutting corners and skipping opportunities.
  2. Cooperate with others. Nothing is gained in medicine in isolation and envy. Louis “Pepper” Dehner and I moved together to Washington University in 1989 and our friendship and professional work together only continued to grow – and our professional relationship spilled over to other faculty and trainees, which led to a lot of good projects. I am forever grateful to him for being my “big brother” as well as my boss.
  3. Don’t base life decisions on money or titles – base them on people. I enjoyed being associated with my colleagues at the University of Virginia. This, plus the scholarship, cooperative efforts, and cordial interactions, enhanced my experience there.
  4. Prioritize your workload. You cannot be truly productive in your academic work if you are not given the time, resources, and tangible support to work on developmental projects.
  5. Last, but certainly not least – have fun!
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About the Author
Mark Wick
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