Just like the police and the clergy, medicine recruits from the human race.
Some physicians vastly overestimate their knowledge, and/or their importance. I interacted with some as I passed through in my career. Most, fortunately, were far more reality based, but not all. Not a trait that I think is unique to physicians.
On the other hand, many patients have a very hard time dealing with answers that though they may be honest and accurate, seem to be less than 100% certain. Dealing with ambiguity is challenging in the best of times, let alone when one is ill. Patients prefer an air of certainty in their doctors, I know I do.
Medicine is “practiced”, not performed, because their is a lot of inherent uncertainty in its practice, even with the best of training and knowledge.
One thing a good education should teach us all, is how little we really know, and how much more we have to hope to learn someday, if research goes well, and just how much we may never really know. Or may even be unknowable. The illusion of certainty on the web is not always correct.
A bit of humility goes a very long way in improving our humanity, methinks...
I always tried to keep this in mind when I taught medical residents and medical students. My clinical openings for them always filled quickly, so I like to think I may have succeeded a bit. My purpose was to teach them how to deal with ophthalmic emergencies, and to not harm folks until the help arrives either, not to make them uncomfortable. Good physicians all know we don't know everything about every field. No one can, no matter how motivated or able.
One other thought occurs to me - pimping CAN be malicious and I don't subscribe to it, but teaching folks who are going to be under pretty great strain at times to think on their feet isn't necessarily malicious, even if it feels like it some times.... The way to not get too excited in life and death situations is to fully understand and KNOW - in your bones - what the possibilities and choices and treatments for each are. Today we call this kind of knowledge algorithms, I think. One area where AI might be of great use. Algorithms prevent one from overlooking issues when excited......
The emotional stress from being "pimped" by a professor or resident, is far less I would suggest, than the stress surgeons or emergency room physicians deal with on daily basis. Stress IS part of the profession. Dealing with life and death situations, child birth or death, or even blindness is challenging.
Even as an ophthalmologist, I still recall a middle aged patient who came in for a routine exam, no problems, a friend of my wife. Her history and examination was perfectly normal, visual acuities were excellent, no spectacles needed, no cataracts, no glaucoma.
I was just about to tell her everything was perfectly normal when I found in the far temporal retina of her left eye, what I was certain was a large malignant melanoma. Completely asymptomatic, and potentially fatal. I then realized I had bad news to tell her, as gently as possible, and that her life was going to change in unanticipated ways for the forseeable future. I would love to reassure her, but how do I do that and be honest? The stress of that afternoon was pretty minor to what physicians deal with on a daily basis. But I still remember it. I had some understanding of what my patient would experience, due to an experience of my own a couple years earlier.
I had had some back pain, for which I had surgery a couple years earlier, recur. So I had an MRI of my lumbar spine for back pain, that was read by the radiologist as a large neoplastic mass, twice the size of my fist, along my iliospoas muscle on the right side. That's something very bad to hear in your doctors office, basically "You are going to die shortly!"
Fortunately, my neurosurgeon had his doubts, and said we needed to do an immediate needle biopsy in his office that afternoon. OK - bad news, followed by invasive procedures - my afternoon wasn't going too well at that point.
The needle aspiration biopsy was uneventful and sent off to pathology on a Thursday late afternoon. I got to wait a whole weekend contemplating a death sentence, until Monday afternoon when I got the biospy report that the mass was a simple blood clot, a hemorrhage, not a malignant tumor. Of course, the question was did the biopsy miss a tumor that caused the hemorrhage, and that question wouldn't be truly answered for several months as I waited for the blood to clear. Short answer, a decade later, my xray was obviously over read, but a large hematoma, without a history of trauma, is highly suggestive of neoplasty. I think I tore my psoas on a weight machine in retrospect, but I never did have acute pain with it. But I do have a healthy idea of what patients experience with serious diagnoses. How their whole world gets tossed upside down. I was very fortunate, my world remained less exciting.
Reducing the stress on medical students is a worthy goal, and one I support, but stress at some level is a part of practicing medicine. And may, quite probably, contribute in some cases, to the higher suicide rates in physicians.