From the moment I was accepted to medical school, I began to get unsolicited advice about which specialty I should choose. The most common recommendation was OB/GYN. “Female OB’s are in such demand!” I was told on a regular basis. However,I had ZERO interest in becoming one of THOSE women. As I began my rotations, I realized that there was more to the specialty than pap smears and stereotypes. In time I embraced it as my calling.
The year I graduated (2005), 75% of OB/GYN residents nationwide were women. I don’t know today’s numbers, but some recent journal editorials have brought attention to the fact that there are fewer and men going into OB. As more and more practices are marketing themselves as “women only,” some male OB’s are beginning to cry, “Foul!” To some extent they are right.
When I made my appointment for my very first pap smear, I called every female doctor in our town, only to find them all on a 6 month waiting list for new patients. I begrudgingly went to see my male FP, and he was fantastic… well as fantastic as the person giving you a pap smear can be (not THAT fantastic). Some of the kindest and most compassionate OB/GYNs I know are male. Many of my mentors in residency were older male physicians, who would really take the time to teach, while the female attendings often hurried home to their families.
At the end of the day, when starting with a new physician, a lot of women just feel more comfortable with a female OB/GYN. I am part of an all female practice, and honestly that is beneficial to getting new patients in the door. A significant majority of our obstetrics patients will ask to confirm that there is no possibility of a male physician delivering them. I answer in the affirmative, but the answer makes me a little uncomfortable. "I prefer to see a woman because you KNOW what I'm going through" they will often tell me. As women, the ‘been there, done that factor’ can cut both ways. Yes, I do get pap smears and understand the discomfort of putting my junk in the literal spot light every year. I also worked 12 hours the days I delivered my baby, and find it hard to muster up compassion for the multiple complaints of my term pregnant patient who work a part time desk job.
Being a MIM is not easy, but honestly in my field it is an advantage. Is it in yours? These men are saying the current situation in OB is rife with discrimination. What do you think?