Am I justified in being annoyed with my professor for doing this?

So, a small group of us (4 students) have to meet with a professor approximately once every 2 weeks to learn physical diagnosis skills (this is medical school). We did not pick this professor, he was assigned to us. In addition, the dates and times were preassigned for every single group by the department.

Of the five times or so we’re supposed to meet this year so far, he’s rescheduled three due to his speaking appointments. This most recent time, he sent out an email with a suggested rescheduling date. The date was right after a test, and two of us responded with, basically, “well, it’s not great but I guess we can do it.” I never heard from the other two. He just emailed us letting us know that we will in fact be meeting after a test.

Part of me is like, “it’s absurd to expect a professor to cancel speaking engagements so he can teach us the physical exam.” But then part of me also thinks that he does have an obligation to us, and if he can’t meet it, then he should abstain from working with us and have another professor do it.

I think I would be a lot more forgiving if, 1) I even kind of liked the dude otherwise, which I don’t, or if 2) He had ever been apologetic about his rescheduling of stuff. But he hasn’t.

And it’s not like any other of us can be like, “well, I can’t meet that week. We need to reschedule.” He’s the only one with that power.

What say you, Dopers?

Seems kinda weird to hold off on rescheduling each appointment individually. You’d think that he’d be aware of speaking engagements several months in advance and could just work out a schedule with the full group at your first meeting.

I say that’s a good point that should perhaps be addressed to the Dean.

I think that’s pretty standard for professors of all types. He may be the backup speaker for a talk and someone else dropped out so he got the spot. Make no mistake that all professors are about getting papers published, getting speaking engagements/recognition, and getting research dollars in the door with your education a very distant second. It was that way back when I was in college, and I can’t imagine it’s any different now. Oh course, in college, they just got a teaching assistant to do the class. I would think the doctor in question would just get a substitute doctor as it doesn’t sound like the subject is particularly technical. As the student, I’m afraid you are kind of screwed, and I personally think I’d keep my mouth shut rather than talking to the Dean, unless there is a way to do so anonymously.

Yeah, he’s a bit high up on the ladder, so I don’t know if could really complain. Maybe to the course director, if anyone.

The thing is, none of the other professors of any other group, that I know of, reschedule this often. Maybe 1x/semester.

Upon reflection, I think i just kind of really dislike this professor. He keeps going on and on about how he’s all, “learner-centered,” and he has some sort of specialization in psychology, although he’s not a psychiatrist. Anyways, that qualification makes him think that he Mr. Good At Reading People, although many times he’s made me feel very awkward with things he’s asked/said and not seemed to notice or care.

It’s pretty lame, but it’s expected. for better or for worse, for a university to have a teacher who has lots of speaking engagements is more impressive than having a teacher that teachers students. I’d just roll with it. The world is full of jerks with power, and unless you have to work with them long-term it’s a lot easier just to wait it out.

Completely justified. If he can’t follow the class schedule and do his speaking engagements he should pick one or the other. Everyone has an occasional conflict that requires juggling the schedule but rescheduling the majority of class sessions is not reasonable. I also agree that he should make at least a token effort at being apologetic about it. Do you have the opportunity to give anonymous feedback about classes at the end of the term? If so, I would mention something about the professor’s outside committments compromising his ability to effectively teach this class.

That said, this won’t seriously affect your ability to do a good physical exam. Most of the real learning there takes place during clinical rotations.

All of that is true, but whilst education is only a distant second in terms of interest to the professor - it certainly does not mean he can blow off his teaching commitments. I don’t know any place good where that would be tolerated.

Good teaching doesn’t help, bad teaching hurts, is the maxim that assistant profs get told in the US. So whilst the prof can easily get away with being a mediocre teacher, he shouldn’t get away with plain not showing up and messing the class around with ridiculous re-scheduling. Wouldn’t be tolerated at any decent university, so the OP should be confident that his complaint, if he makes one, will be taken seriously.

How are you learning the skills he is meant to teach you?

That is the main thing.

Even if he doesn’t show up, your group should still meet and do the topic he was meant to cover as well as you can.
I assume it is something like “the cardiovascular exam” or “the neuro exam”- get the books, watch the Youtube videos (no, seriously) talk to your classmates who have more successful tutorials and make sure you aren’t missing out.

Would it be feasible for each of your group to join up with another group and cancel his sessions altogether? That way each group only has one extra member and you guys gets out of his sessions.

Otherwise, at your next meeting get him to go over all the dates with you and reschedule ones he can’t make to mutually agreed times.

Flag it up to your programe directors as an issue- doctors who cannot examine patients properly are not safe.

Or have I missed something-is he actually teaching you and making up all the sessions, just not at the original times? In which case, you have no beef. If a department sets arbirtrary dates without checking with the teaching staff whether the dates will suit, and the teacher reschedules so that the teaching can happen, well, that is perfectly fine. The rest seems to be down to personality clashes between you.

When I was a student we were meant to have tutorials on Friday afternoons- which co-incided with one of my tutor’s weekly theatre slots- we rescheduled. Sure, it was less convenient, but it was necessary.

Your the student. He’s the professor. You’re complaining over something very insignificant. He can make your schedule a living nightmare. That’s the way it goes.

It’s the old question, “why is the professor here?” Is it to research, get published, get recognition, give speaches or to teach? The university wants the prof to do all those things, but unfortunately teaching usually lands at the bottom of the barrell. You have a legitimate complaint because, afterall, you’re paying the university and you’re really only concerned with the teaching part. However, the university is getting grant money and so forth, so the research and recognition must continue. Although your complaint is legit, it will not get you anywhere. Unfortunately, you’ll have to suck it up.

This is certainly true for academia, but is it true for a medical school? This is an honest question— I really don’t know. I do know that professional schools–law and medicine and veterinary and pharmacy–all predate the evolution of the modern “research institute” model of the University, and really are fundamentally different than undergraduate or graduate programs.

While I know there are plenty of medical school professors who teach and do research, it seems like there are an awful lot of them in private practice, as well–are those guys ALSO teaching and doing research, or do you pick two out of the three for any given period of your life?

I think the people bring up the “professor-student” relationships and the obligations imposed upon both sides have a good point; i.e. I need to just shut up and do what he says.

But, the thing is, this whole dynamic has been pushed as more a “mentor-mentee” thing, from the school and especially from him. He makes it seem like he wants to be all involved in our lives, having us over to his house for four hours of Latin dance lessons (I hate dancing, and I hate dancing with a professor and having my face like two inches from him. I get that in South America it’s okay, but we have bigger bubbles here and I don’t like it) and asking us about our significant others and such. He’s also our advisor. So I guess I’m a little resentful that the product is different than advertised.

Thanks for all the responses, though.

And yes, we are learning all the skills from him, albeit at a different time.

Oh, and one other pointless little rant I need to get off my chest: When he had us over to his house for the four hour Latin dance lesson, we had dinner first. Which we provided (it was a potluck). He asked each of us to bring a dish from our “ethnic background.” WTF? While three of the four of us were some flavor of brown and so had a clear ethnic background, the white boy was white. I think he ended up bringing something Greek. Anyways, it just seemed a little pointlessly race-oriented, although completely innocuous.

Speaking as a professor myself, your prof sounds… eccentric (to be nice). You may just have to suffer through his idiosyncrasies and wait it out. Not every prof is a gem.

It is also very possible he was told he had to do this teaching assignment and even if he notified his Dean about the conflicts was told to make it work. Profs are often at the mercies of administration’s directives.

Nothing to add, but just wanted to give kudos that Barkis’s username is great and is from one of my favorite books of all time, and further, one of my favorite little bits from that book. Thanks for bringing back all the joy of David Copperfield!