The world just doesn’t want me


After what seemed like an insurmountable battle to get my UK medical license, I have now discovered it is basically worthless.

In order to apply for a job, I need paperwork I do not have. In order to get the paperwork, I have to have a job. Everyone failed to mention that in this months long process.

Hope dashed by clerks…I hate clerks. They have always caused me a rather miserable time. It seems I simply do not fit into their world of checkboxes and 9-5 lives. This doesn’t really come as a surprise to me, but it is always stressful and demoralizing.

But clerks have invented something even more distressing. Automated employment applications. A computer system where some mindless half-wit creates a set of “requirements” that must be met. Some include “key word searches.” Some include redundant questions and scripts. I cannot even recount the times, in one that took me 4 hours to fill out, it asked me if I had a license number. Then after the form was saved, every time I submit it to a different job, I have to answer that question twice more! It even asks me to refill questions already completed and saved on the same page!

The best is when they list things like “for more information, call or email this person.” I did that, they seemingly never answer. If they do it is with one or two words. In 29 requests for information, I received exactly 2 replies by email. No calls were answered or returned. Both of the replies were nearly a week after I sent them. It seems sort of crazy to me it takes that long to return a one or two word email. It is not like they give it any thought. If they do, I hope they don’t have any important decisions to make. I can only imagine how long it takes to think something like that through.

I figure like this though… The form asks for a lot of useless information. I suspect on both ends. The form probably has as a posting requirement a contact name and number. This person like the rest of the world probably has either a junk email account they use for such purposes, or automatic filters which prevent any unsolicited email from reaching them. The other alternative is they just don’t care. Healthcare providers who don’t care and can’t be bothered. That is a chilling thought. If that is the way they treat peers, can you imagine what to expect as a patient?

One of my colleagues likes to claim that as a species, we have now reached the peak of our civilization and it is all down-hill now. I don’t have to imagine it. I live it. A world in which if you do not meet the automated process you effectively do not exist. After all, this is the same process which doubted I spoke English. It is the same process that couldn’t figure out it was possible to have more than one job at the same time. A process which couldn’t reconcile it is possible to have a job and go to school. That it is possible to have a job in more than one country at the same time. I guess modern air travel and the internet are not taken into account.

The only other option if it is not stupidity is malice. I understand one should never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity, but I just cannot reconcile the idea people really are this stupid. After my lifetime, it really should not be a surprise. Perhaps the Dunning-Kruger effect is in full force. I mistakenly believe others are more capable than they are. Of course I will now be labeled as elitist and arrogant. I don’t even consider that an insult anymore. If anyone disagrees, prove me wrong. Step up and actually do something to make a difference. Let me see what you can do. I’ll wait…

All of this makes me wonder…Once we dehumanize as many of our processes as possible, what happens next? Do we lie on the paperwork making it useless in order to even exist on this Earth? Do we become automations, incapable of critical thought or definitive action, simply attempting to fit into the check boxes being enough? I am glad I don’t have to date that way. “In order to be considered for reproduction, please fill out this 20 page form and provide standard documentation of the following…”

So I must ask the question, “What benefit does any of this provide?” Does it save time? Who’s time? It takes time to create these specifications and documents. It takes time to fill them all out. It takes time to wait for replies that may never come for “more information.” Plus, in my experience hiring people and creating teams, almost everyone that looks good on paper doesn’t live up to their profile, the job recruitment version of keyboard commandos. Anyone who has hired people or had to create a team should be able to attest no matter how somebody looks on paper, they could be utterly destructive to your organization. You create stress, waste time and resources to get them. Once that is done, you basically destroy any level of workplace efficiency or productivity dealing with them. You alienate your other employees. Some of your best people may even quit. In the end when this person (who is simply nothing other than culturally incompatible) quits or is fired, your losses are far higher than just them as individuals.

At the same time, a lesser skilled person who is more culturally in tune or even has the right attitude can return a far higher rate on an employer’s investment. But if these people are utterly eliminated by check boxes or lack of them, how can anyone realistically hope for such an outcome?

One of my friends, not me I promise, because I did remember laughing at the situation when he found himself in it,(there is no way to make this stuff up) applied for a job and had to go through an automated application. The person in question had a PhD and was applying for a job that required a bachelor’s degree. Ultimately, he never got a reply and called to find out why he was not given an interview. He was told “you did not indicate you had a bachelor’s degree and so was automatically rejected.” When he tried to explain there was no option for a higher degree, the reply was basically “oh well…your loss”
Which makes me wonder…What kind of mindless waste of sperm would take such an attitude and be considered an asset to their employer? “Yea the guy with a PhD wanted a job, but he didn’t check the box that said “bachelor’s degree, so fuck him, no loss to the company.”

I recently heard a proponent of this system claim there is still an interview. But is there? My PhD friend didn’t get an interview. If you are using this system to preselect candidates, are you not using a scoring system to grade them? I have encountered this too. I sat in an interview that was scheduled to last 15 minutes. After 45 minutes the lead interviewer on the panel, with a look of amazement said to me “you don’t fit into our scoring system at all, so we don’t know how to grade you, but surely you will get an offer.” Yea, I got an offer. An offer so bad and in contra to every value I stated in that interview I wasn’t sure they had the right person. “Somebody” who clearly didn’t sit at that table nor even bother to read my CV or interview notes “selected me.” Then they were shocked I declined the position.

The process was fundamentally flawed anyway. You were awarded points for academic publications, maximum of 2. Maximum? Who puts a maximum on effort? I had 4 at the time; double that maximum. Yet I received no credit for doing twice the max? When I questioned it I was told “nobody had ever done that much before.”

Perhaps my thinking is flawed, but I always figured if somebody does double what everyone else ever did, that would make them a better candidate than somebody who did just enough to check the boxes. Apparently I am wrong. It is not the first time, and probably won’t be the last time, but it really is disappointing. It is like being punished for being successful.

Who comes up with this stuff? How insignificant must they be in life?

When I first started my fire career, I was told many times, by many people, I was too smart to be a fireman. I didn’t believe them. I didn’t think I was smarter than anyone else. Eventually I had to admit to myself these people who said that, who I loathed as much as any human could for making my dream seem insignificant, were ultimately right. Now I am too smart to be a doctor. I was always told doctors and lawyers were the peak of human capability. (Even when you don’t like them).

But it really isn’t an issue of what I am, it is an issue of what I am not. I am not the minimum. I am not somebody whose life is to satisfy check boxes. I am not a mindless clerk. I am not a buzzword. I measure myself by how outstanding my successes are. Perfection, not mediocrity, is the uncompromising standard. Unfortunately for me, it is the mediocre who are creating these systems. People who simply are not as intelligent as I am. People who are not as capable as I am. If they were, there would be no issue. There would not be replies like “nobody has ever done that much before.” They would realize how inadequate their check boxes and buzzword searches are. I might be called “smart” or “motivated” but certainly never “too smart” or “too motivated.”

The best way I can possibly describe it is I feel like Michael Phelps being told he is not qualified to get into a swimming pool because he didn’t check the box stating he was currently enrolled in swimming lessons.

But unlike Michael Phelps, I really do need a job. I am not asking for lots of money or even good hours. Just something I enjoy doing. Something I have always looked forward to doing. I remember having jobs like that. Jobs I actually looked forward to going to. Something that mattered, surrounded by great and like-minded people. People I looked up to. People I respect and admire even to this day. People who were not better on paper. People who could make the world spin in the other direction at a moment’s notice. I am a champion stuck in a world of losers and in “furthering” my career, I actually made it worse.

I am told my attitude is distinctly American. It is an attitude of “can.” If that is what defines Americans, then I guess it is a title I will have no matter what my citizenship status. On the list of historical figures I admire: Sun Tzu. Leonardo da Vinci. Miyamoto Musashi , Marcus Aurelius, I wonder if they were “too smart”, “too American”, had done things “nobody ever did before” and were penalized for it? I suggest my life would be so much easier if I was a mindless cunt who looked up to a football player or movie star. Some days I just wish the limits of my intelligence were tabloid news.

I once asked one of the people who told me I was too smart to be a fireman that on the day their house was on fire, when their family was trapped, if they wanted the smartest most capable person that could be summoned or some dude who had reached the maximum of his capability pulling a hose coming to the rescue? I received only silence in reply. Now I know the answer… They want the guy who did the minimum needed to check off the boxes. They want that because it is more comfortable for them to determine the person coming to their rescue is their equal or inferior. Tomorrow I will play the automation game again. I will not fit in. I will not lie. The people making hiring decisions don’t want me as a doctor. They want the minimum. They want the guy who did just enough to check off the boxes. They want to know the person they select is equal or not as capable. I know this because if they actually wanted me, I would be on my way into a job I enjoy tomorrow. Sadly for me, it will not be the case.
The conflict of man vs. society.

The battle continues tomorrow. Let us raise a glass to “the good fight.”

8 thoughts on “The world just doesn’t want me

    • There are many possibilities to who I may be. There are fewer probabilities. There is only one inevitability…

      Sorry, it has been a long time since I got to use that line. The brilliance of a late friend…

      This is me

      • To be fair, it really wasn’t a question I was expecting you to answer but after reading many of your blog posts, I think your career seems to be very interesting and I like to think I’ve gained some unique insight on the medical community.

        Although, I have difficulty deciding to what degree of genius you are. Some of the career aspects you touch on through your posts sound interesting (and challenging) but as many have pointed out, your writing (at least on this blog) is rather condescending, snarky, rude and often lacks a lot of empathy for those you are communicating. In short, what I perceive is a lack of professionalism on your part makes me wonder what kind of professional you are.

        Anyway, I’m preparing to go to nursing school in the States but I have a growing interest in Emergency medicine and after reading your latest post “What exactly do we do?” (as well as volunteering at an ED) this interest is only reinforced.

        Keep up the good work and good luck with your stuff


      • You seem terribly conflicted or a bit unsure about how to say what you want diplomatically.

        If I could offer a few insights?

        If I can choose what degree of genius I am (which I never really considered myself as) I think “evil genius” would make my life much easier. That way people would be more appreciative when I do good things.

        Professionalism is a moving target. It is often defined by who is insulted and when. Let me give you an example:

        It is professional to admit deficiencies of both system and ability for the purpose of improvement. It is generally considered professional to do so in a way that doesn’t insult anyone or single anyone out.

        Is that always possible? It seems to me it is not. But singling out deficiency or lack of value doesn’t equate to a personal attack. I think the military generally provides a good example of this.

        Is it professional to put providers feelings and comfort above the needs and demands of patients? You will have to make your own call on that. My personal view is “no.”

        I make a conscious effort to be as open and direct as possible, In the past I have been wrongly accused and punished for using my intellect to manipulate people. So I show all my cards. I say exactly what I mean and I mean what I say. There are no hidden agendas, very little diplomacy for sure. Again though, it is a personal choice, some believe a pretty lie is better than an ugly truth. I do not subscribe to that.

        You make empathy sound like it is always a positive attribute and lack of a positive connotation equals a lack of empathy.

        Lack of the ability to feel/understand the perspective of others is not the same as using their feelings, values, wishes, as a self serving tool or a weapon.

        The very same empathy that helps me to understand patients and their needs, fears, desires, etc, does not preclude me from being able to manipulate or torment people. It is my personal choice to try to be benevolent. (To the best of my ability, I am not perfect and sometimes I have moments of lapse) If you look at con-artists, abusers, cult leaders, politicians, they usually are very empathetic people. They just made a choice to use that ability for self-serving reasons. They choose to be malevolent in the same way I strive towards benevolence. Certainly we are all capable of reversing the choice, even from time to time.

        Finally, there is a quote I am very fond of by Nietzsche:
        “… if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”

        I don’t write this blog for others. I write it for me. For lack of a better term it is a therapeutic outlet. It is publically available for others who are interested in what I think. Proceed at your own risk.

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