Firm Rules that Make Life Better... and Easier!

I have been a faculty member in Family Medicine for the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine for 20 years. I have taught many students over the years and have been told that I have a reputation for being one of the most demanding teachers in the Medical School. I give more and longer reading assignments, have much higher expectations and am much more critical of student performance. In spite of this I am also told that students love the time they spend in my office. How can this be?

I think it is because everything I ask and everything I do when I teach is directed toward one goal- helping students become the best doctor they can be. The reading assignments are relevant and directly related to the patients and conditions they encounter. My high expectations are based in the belief that they probably know more and can do more than they give themselves credit for, and are geared to helping them perform not as students but as doctors. My criticisms are honest, direct and truthful, and are delivered with an absence of condescension. In this context students progress rapidly and see tangible growth over time. What initially might be thought to be a burden ends up being a blessing.

I wonder if this is analogous to meaning of the words of the beloved apostle John who wrote, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:3-4 NIV

The commandments of God are not burdensome because they are not limiting but freeing. They do not keep us from experiencing the world but instead allow us to break free of its enticements and bondage and to experience the joy that only God can offer. That which to some might seem a burden ends up being a blessing. It is all a matter of perspective!

- Bart