chapter  Six
Socialization and The Process of Becoming a Physician
WithHoward F. Stein, Margaret A. Stein
Pages 31

This chapter explores the rite of passage, the socialization process, by which medical students, interns, and residents become doctors. It examines the interplay between the “outer” and “inner” experiences of the initiates and of their clinical teachers or preceptors. The central task of medical education is the transformation of a lay or “civilian” person into the role and status of a physician. The process of going through medical school, internship, and residency does not create young physicians’ values, attitudes, expectations, and beliefs ex nihilo. The educational rituals of medical school, internship, and residency have as one of their major functions the creation of boundaries. The ritual process of becoming a physician thus involves, among other things, the interplay between the experience of outer assault and inner vulnerability. James Masterson writes that “the less intrapsychic structure an individual has, the more he turns to seemingly stable factors in the external world for stability to help him contain and adapt”.