Monday, February 18, 2008

Beauty and Brains - What's with the Player Haters?

My older sister looks like someone who would have a fairy godmother and little birds to help her get dressed in the morning. She has blond hair, big blue eyes and a dainty little figure. But her looks are far from her best feature - she is funny, down-to-earth and coincidentally, brilliant. She graduated high school with a 4.89 GPA, was a National Merit Scholar, went on to an Ivy League college, and then to medical school. She recently finished her specialty training in rheumatology (jigga, what???) and is now a practicing physician in Orange County.

Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to admit that my sister is far from perfect, but my point is that if you saw her from across the bar or coffee shop, it wouldn't occur to you that she should probably be in a think tank somewhere. She is the perfect example of "beauty and brains."

During my sister's residency at a busy county hospital in Los Angeles, it was often difficult to convince patients that she was in fact the physician, not the nurse. At 5'3, about 115 pounds and with a face that looks more late teens than early thirties, she certainly didn't have the built-in credibility of the older, male physicians. While some of us would give our left pinky to have my sister's problems, it often forced her to be less friendly and social than the other residents. In order to be taken seriously, she often had to hide her personality.

We all thought her credibility issues would end after she finished her formal training and joined a respected internal medicine group in Orange County. But the other night over dinner, my sister started telling me a story about another physician in her group, let's call him Dr. Duh. Dr. Duh is an older man and one of the original members of the group. He is also a primary care physician, so he often has to refer rheumatology patients to my sister.

Welllllll, it turns out that while Dr. Duh is telling his patients about my sister, he refers to her as the new rheumatologist, who is "as cute as a button." This may sound innocent enough, but if your primary care physician was referring you to a specialist, would you want them to be described as “capable” or “cute as a button?” Talk about a credibility-buster.

The worst part is that there isn’t much my sister can do to correct the situation. If she calls him out, will he resent her? If he is trying to get a reaction, saying something to him could reaffirm this inappropriate and highly unprofessional behavior. Plus, she is the new kid on the block, and causing problems could jeopardize her relationship with the whole physician group.

Every accidental feminist bone in my body wants to tell Dr. Duh exactly what I think of his “cute little joke, which probably matches his cute little penis.” But the truth is I’ll never get that chance, and I’d probably be out one excellent sister if I did say anything like that. Regardless, whether Dr. Duh has a problem with women physicians in general, or just the cute ones, as far as I’m concerned, he is nothing but a big, fat player hater.


Anonymous said...

I cannot believe this! And was just told stories from a girlfriend at dinner about her boss calling her "kid" and "sweetheart" repeatedly. She's not sure how to respond either to get it to stop - what is it with men not being able to handle women with brains?? Great addition to the blog!!

Anonymous said...

You know what...i'm guilty! i'm a player hater! Because of some medical issues, i'm a frequent visitor at the hospital and i'm sorry to admit that i usually get nervous when i see a young doctors. I respect them as people but they hold no credibility in my book. Why i feel that way is because i have a slanted view of doctors (i know that it is not right but i can't help it) and believe that they should be gray, aged and sometimes ugly. They shouldn't be hot, cute or young because that would mean that they look like me. Yes, i have achieved so much in my life and i'm sure thay have equally done that with theirs BUT....... It boils down to one thing.....they don't know what the hell they are doing! They have no experience under their belt! By experience i mean over 15 years! I feel so terrible but thats just how i feel. There have been times i ask for a young doctor's age and joke about graduating high school with a medical degree (yes! i know). I've also requested for another older doctor twice! I feel bad at my actions but agein...i can't help it. After reading this i feel so terrible and i just had to confess but i promise to change. Now i know how your sister feels and its not fair. It truly isn't.