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If training isn’t tough, it’s not doing its work

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

The Spartans knew a thing or two about the value of brutal training but they were dedicated to producing the ultimate warrior society. Why would doctors need a brutal training period as junior doctors? What is it about the macho culture of investment bankers that requires new entrants to be driven to the edge of mental and physical exhaustion? How does it benefit an organisation to routinely exploited, abused and intimidated young  professionals who represent the future of the business.

Let’s discount the arguments that say that’s the way it’s always been and I went through it and it didn’t do me any harm or even, I had to endure it so they should. These are not reasons for continuing the practice. Is there an argument that the organisation simply couldn’t operate with out imposing long hours and low pay and the only way to get trainees to accept this is to say if you don’t do it you won’t qualify or be eligible for good ( well rewarded, high status, influential)posts. There are certainly some chief executives of hospital Trusts who have given this justification but it hardly applies to investment banking and the legal profession.

It’s hard to see how depriving junior doctors of sleep will make them better doctors, prepare them for life after qualifying or indeed be in the best interest of patients. Making those who want to be investment banks work 100 hours a week to the detriment of their mental and physical health will certainly encourage the “weak” to drop out it has also driven some to suicide! Why would employers want to mistreat valuable resources in this way?
Perhaps it’s nothing to do with training or equipping professions with skills, experience or personality characteristics required for the role, it is simply a rite of passage a way of marking the move from low status to high status. Does it matter to the rest of us if highly paid hospital consultants, barristers and investment bankers had it tough during their training?
I think it does. If this is how some organisations treat their brightest and best how will they treat nursing auxiliaries, cleaners and call centre staff? What these organisations are doing is championing the survival of the fittest and macho management. In much the same way as the Spartans championed a warrior society not somewhere you would chose to live or work.

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