Summary: There is a term that has been thrown around a lot in the last few years,
which I both understand and really hate, and which I want to throw a
few barbs at. It’s called “grade inflation.”
Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head
and Neck Imaging, at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.
He who praises everybody, praises nobody.
is a term that has been thrown around a lot in the last few years,
which I both understand and really hate, and which I want to throw a few
barbs at. It’s called “grade inflation.” It has gone way past just
grades in middle school, high school, or through college. It has
ascended and poisoned (my opinion) the evaluations we need to do about
residents and fellows, and also about colleagues. Here’s my current
opinion—if you come to my program with a CV and supporting
documentation, and every SINGLE letter doesn’t say you can walk on
water, light fires with your finger tips, call forth the winds, and read
my mind, I’m not sure I want you.
This is an odd predicament
we’ve placed ourselves in. Now, when you read applications and letters,
you have to read for “red flags,” or little secret codes. “I
overwhelmingly support this candidate’s application” vs. “I can
wholeheartedly support this candidate’s application.” One, from the
right source, could mean if you hire this person, don’t be surprised if
you wake up some morning with him or her in your reading room
sacrificing a goat and carving a nice little design in a chosen
clinician’s forehead. I’m serious. I’ve seen it. The hidden meaning
letters, not the goat sacrifice… .
We have now all gained an
incredible respect for the occasional person who can write the truth.
“Do NOT hire this person.” “Completely untrustworthy.” Well, I WOULD
have respect for that person if they existed. That, my friends, will
never happen. That is what lawyers are for. Also, people get to choose
who writes their letters, and they are selective. If you’re likely to
blow a whistle, you won’t be writing too many letters, particularly
those that require the person to sign away their right to see it.
don’t know if there is a way to get rid of this sticky little problem.
It starts early (preschool), and becomes only more entrenched. That’s
one reason I love interviews. Although, even a real sociopath/psychopath
could likely hold it together for 15 to 20 minutes to get through an
interview. All the while, they could be contemplating carving that
design in your forehead, AFTER they have the job. Do you smell roast