I was recently reading the post “Are you really a doctor” from Penny Wilson. This got me thinking about what its like to be on the other side. I’ll get onto my thoughts but first a story which set the tone for my medical career.
During my 4th year of medical school (first clinical time) on my 2nd day on general medicine.
Post take ward round, desperately trying to keep up with the team as I wasn’t sure which room was which etc.
They were seeing a moderately confused woman in her 80s. The patient had been seen by a female registrar in ED then clerked by the female house surgeon and reviewed by the female registrar.
As I was still trying to find the notes (who hides these!) I was late and missed the consultant reviewing the history and as I nipped through the curtain the female consultant who held not one but two fellowships was examining the patient.
As soon as the patient locked eyes on me she let out a loud sigh and said “thank God! finally I get to see a doctor!” I tried in vain to push the patients attention back to the consultant but was unsuccessful. Each answer the consultant gave was painfully checked with me. Finally after what seems like a lifetime the consultant explained what we would be doing next. the patient replied “If that’s what the doctor thinks is best”
The team took it pretty well and I was the recipient of my fair share of jokes over the run. They had all heard it before but not as clearly as this time.
Very occasionally my gender leads to trouble. I am usually sent to see the trouble makers in ED (fair enough but they are more likely to take a swing at me) I was recently told by a medical protection society worker that a chaperone should be present when listening to female patients heart sounds. They didn’t appreciate “I can understand that when I forget my stethoscope”
Being a bloke leads to the reduction in the number of groping incidents but doesn’t completely stop them. Comments are pretty frequent. Whilst on geriatrics it was considered a pretty accurate assessment of patients frontal lobe status if they suggested my slippers might be welcome under their bed.
I remember hanging out on the labour ward for days trying to get involved with births as people were uncomfortable about a bloke being present. In general practice the split is clearer most women see a female GP for their “women’s issues” I have never had a patient present for a cervical smear (makes a mockery of Fears, Smears and Tears).
And finally I thought I Would finish with a little Margaret Thatcher.
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”