Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What to Tell a Mom

Social skills can nurture grade-A students of life
Dr. Timothy Quinn • Special to The Clarion-Ledger • June 10, 2008

Social skills are important. This is what I told a patient's mom when she asked me to persuade her son not to join a fraternity.

She felt it would affect his grades. The mother was surprised when I told her that I am in a fraternity. I explained to the mother that being part of a social organization helps develop a person's social skills, which are very important for the success of that individual. This also helps with future networking opportunities.

I told her my mom made sure I took advantage of any opportunity to be involved in activities. This included church organizations; after-school activities; and other activities, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and intramural sports. I was also given the opportunity to work when I became of age.

I told the patient about some of my experiences as part of a fraternity. I spoke of opportunities during college that allowed me to be part of a collaborative city effort that involved mentoring inner-city children. This allowed me to work with professionals, including physicians who mentored me during the process. I told her the story of my interview process for medical school and how interestingly the interviewer looked over my application and sang the fraternity song when I entered the room. Also, that a fraternity brother let me sleep on his sofa upon entering medical school until I was able to afford my own apartment.

Later on, I allowed a fraternity brother in the same situation to live in my apartment for two months while I was out of town the following year. I found it funny that he wore my suit, which I left in my closet.

I am not saying that grades are not important, but socialization is an important part of one's education in life. I graduated with honors, but I would not trade the social interactions that helped develop my character for any price.

Dr. Timothy Quinn is a Jackson-area family practitioner. Visit his Web site at www.quinnhealthcare.familydoctors.net.