If you are a female medical student, resident, or physician you must be TIRED of hearing these 8 things. The nerve some people to ask or say these things to women in medicine is absolutely incredible. Do you think the MALES are asked/told these things ALL the time? Of course NOT! You all know what I am talking about. These comments from male doctors, your aunts/uncles, even patients that just make you roll your eyes and sigh. Since you are all already trying to figure out what these things are, I am just going to DIVE into it.
If you have a good laugh, can relate, or just simply want to indirectly let others know it bothers you then share, tweet, pin, and comment on this post to let me know your thoughts!
“Are you sure you want that specialty? you won’t have time for family”
Whenever I told someone I wanted to go into Obstetrics and Gynecology early on, this was the classic. Even in 2018 there is still a misconception that if you go into medicine you will not have a life. If you are woman that translates into “you won’t have time to fit into the norm of mom, dad and 2.5 kids”. Because you know, every person’s goal in life is to get married and have children. This is wrong on so many levels because for starters not everyone wants to get married. Many married couples DO NOT want children, at all. In today’s time there are so many options for practicing medicine. It’s not the same for everyone. Some work part time, some full time, some find their own way. So before saying this to anyone who is starting a career in medicine, think about how it’d feel.
“What does your husband/boyfriend/partner think about you going into that specialty”
This is one I love. Just because I am in a relationship or am married doesn’t mean my partner has to “approve” anything for me. When you are in a loving, supportive relationship each person has their own goals and dreams. You both have to support each other in reaching said goals together and individually. I talk about how to deal with medical school while being married, or in a committed relationship HERE. My husband wants me to be happy in my career. So why would he not want me to do what makes me happy, what I am passionate about? It is absolutely stupid to assume that preconceptions about a specialty will dictate my choice. So again think of women as capable of doing whatever they set their mind to, and making the decision for themselves.
“Is your husband/boyfriend/partner moving with you wherever you match?”
Recently, this is my favorite one. I am in the process of applying for residency and truth is we don’t know where we’ll end up. I have not once heard anyone tell any of my male classmates who are married if their wives will be relocating with them. So tell me, WHY is it assumed that a man’s wife will automatically relocate but women’s husbands won’t? I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been asked this questions at interviews, by friends, family and strangers. My husband and I are a team and we make decisions together. He knew these were all possibilities when I was applying to medical school. So when the time came we came up with a list that benefitted both of our careers and that’s where I applied. We always talked about our options so we could make informed decisions together.
“How’s nursing school?”
This is another great one. You hear it the most at the hospital or clinic from patients and their family members. Apparently women in scrubs screams nurse yet man in scrubs equals doctor. Society still has not completely understood that there is 50.7% of women enrolled in medical school. Meaning the majority of medical students are female. In addition, there are a LOT of amazing male nurses. So why is a woman in a hospital assumed to be a nurse more often than a doctor? Well you tell me. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been asked about how nursing school is going, and if I am a practitioner or a regular nurse. Honestly, it’s a little offensive. It’s sad that as a society we still do not think of women in general as capable of the same careers as a man.
“Your poor husband.I bet you never have time to cook for him”
This one I heard the most during my surgery rotation. Some surgeons seem to assume that a good wife cooks for her husband. As a woman in surgery rotation I was going out early and getting home late. Their immediate assumption is my husband must be suffering because I don’t have time to cook. Chauvinistic I know! Well some of them were left speechless when I said that I still cooked most days but my husband likes cooking so we share. What a rarity! We also share the chores because we are both adults and are considerate for the other person. I cook for my husband not because I have to, but because I want to. Cooking is fun and I enjoy coming up with delicious healthy recipes. Having lunch for the next day is an added bonus.
“Are sure you want *insert surgical specialty*, wouldn’t it be better if you went for family medicine or pediatrics?”
Don’t we all just LOVE when people want to decide what is good or bad for you and your family? I love the hidden judgement in this one. For some reason the fact that women “need” to be at home and available 100% for their husbands and children is completely absurd to me. Even though more and more women choose medicine every day, the patriarchy stands. Women are still expected to be housewives and if you want to work you STILL need to be a housewife. I say NO! Housework is a team effort whether you are both in medicine or just one. Same goes for childcare. Every person, as an individual, has the right to chase their dreams and choose their career. No one has the right to decide for you what that will be.
“Good luck trying to do that, it would be best if you *unsolicited advice*”
Another favorite of mine especially when it comes from older male doctors. It’s exactly the same as the unsolicited advice pregnant women get from everyone around them. Honestly, your opinion about my career choices means absolutely NOTHING to me. So keep your opinions, based on YOUR OWN experience to yourself. I am a completely different person and what didn’t work for you might work out for me. There is no way to know unless I try. And guess what? I probably will and I will aim to prove you wrong. Thank you for the encouragement!
“But they’ll call you during the night, what about your children *that I don’t have yet*?”
Will they be calling YOU at night? NO! Then it doesn’t really matter if I get called or not. I know what I am getting into. I chose this path. Guess what? I love every second I am working with women in labor and help bring a life into this world. Honestly, it is a blessing to be allowed into one of the most amazing and impressive moments in life. Not only that, when things go awry, I will have lost sleep but I will serve as a pillar to someone who just went through unimaginable pain. So before you think you might like or dislike being called during the night, be aware that I chose this. My post Love, Labor, Loss goes more in depth into why this is such a sacred choice and why it means so much to me.
I am sure there are many others but these were the ones I could come up with (with some help from #GirlMedTwitter). Being a woman in medicine is hard and filled with criticism every step of the way. The most important thing is to find your way and your center and stay strong. Many will try to bring you down and change your mind but never let that get to you. Always use those critics to continue moving forward and serve as motivation to reach your dreams and beyond.
Oprah said something on on her speech on the Golden Globes that inspired me.
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”
As women climb the majority tree on medicine, it is OUR time to speak up and show them women CAN do anything.
What are YOU tired of hearing in your line of work/in your specialty?
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