Thursday, September 12, 2013

The doctor problem

As other bloggers have mentioned in the past, it's always hard to tell new moms you meet that you're a physician. I worry about the reaction, that it will make people uncomfortable, that they won't want to be friends with me anymore.

But lately I've hit on a solution:

Other mom: "What do you do?"

Me: "I'm a physiatrist. Do you know what that is?"

Mom: [likely thinking: physiotherapist, podiatrist, etc] "Oh! Yes!"

And she has absolutely no idea I'm a doctor.

22 comments:

  1. You are so lucky! I sometimes say I work at a clinic, but if people are paying attention they ask if I'm a nurse & the truth is out.
    Thanks for addressing this topic again - I always thought it was something I was imagining until I read an old MiM post (from an anesthesiologist?) about the topic. I just hate seeing "the look" after I "reveal."
    It's sad to me that I really don't have any friends right now (aside from my "old" friends) but I do feel better knowing that a lot of other female physicians have the same issues. I thought it was just me for a long time.

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  2. I often say, "I work at the hospital" or "I'm in healthcare.". I out myself after the a few meetings at least.

    Once, as a resident after a particularly rough ICU call, I got asked if I was a nurse and I replied, "No. I don't have that kind of power. I just do what the nurses tell me to."

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  3. I always say I work at the hospital. Usually that's enough, but sometimes there are follow up questions that out me. Do you think other professional women (lawyers, executives, dentists) have this same problem?

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    1. I think I might have given the "look" to a woman who straight up introduced herself as a physicist. I couldn't help but think "hot daaaamn! i bet you're smart"

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    2. I'm an economics professor. In the Midwest people consider us to be the same class as teachers, so ok for anybody to be friends with. In the South where I live now, moms have been totally friendly and then get that glazed uncomfortable look when they ask me what I do at the university ("are you a secretary?") and then kind of back off. Like I'm going to give them a pop quiz or something. At children's parties I generally end up only talking to other university professors and medical doctors.

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  4. I don't understand the 'look'. But that's maybe just me.

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  5. In all fairness, I wonder if someone told me that they were... I don't know, an investment banker, lawyer, artist, physicist, poet, whatever, that I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to say to them either. I might just back away in "fear" because of it, thinking that they must think I am awfully stupid/unsophisticated/whatever. I wonder if they would interpret this as me thinking I'm too good for them or something.

    Maybe we just need better topics of conversation that don't leave us in situations where people who don't know us well don't know what to say to us.

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  7. Funny you say that! When I was in medical school, I used to say I was in "grad school" when I was asked what I did. Sometimes the person would prod further, revealing what kind of schooling I was in. Now that I'm a psychiatrist, I just say I'm a psychiatrist. Usually people think I mean psychologist, or they know what a psychiatrist is and think I'm crazy, which is always amusing

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    1. I did the same thing in med school (especially when I was trying to talk to boys...) when I mentioned
      "med school" they usually backed away pretty quickly. Now I tend to emphasize my research, and state that I work for the university we're affiliated with instead of the hospital. After a couple of meetings though, the follow-up questions reveal the truth.

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  8. Lol!! I love it!! Why don't people just fess up and say they have no idea what that is?

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  9. I wonder about this topic too as I am a SAHM currently. I really want to fit in this year within the support/play groups I have found but I dread being asked the question. Partly because I don't want to talk about medicine or why I am taking time off as it was an extremely difficult and personal decision for me. Besides I never ask anyone what made them leave their job to become a SAHM. I am all too familiar with the stares and strange glances when I bite the bullet and mutter I'm a doctor. I wonder if they think I don't belong, or how dare I drop in on their world. I wonder if they are secretly jealous that my time as a SAHM is temporary and most have chosen never to go back to a career. I have no clue what they are thinking. But I do know I feel uncomfortable saying I'm a doc and that shouldn't be the case considering all the training and money it has cost. I also know that when you are a mom and are put in a new situation you simply perform. Being a SAHM is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life, when I do return to work I will have so much more appreciation for my child's caretaker. I've had the blessing of being with my child every minute since birth but I am also so exhausted and haven't had many free moments to myself this past year. It might sound crazy but sometimes I am envious of women who go back to work and I mean no disrespect by this statement but I wonder how many women actually realize how hard it is to take care of their own child all day long! It's rougher than rough. I'm not looking forward to being away from my child when I return to work but I am looking forward to coming home from work and only "being on the clock" for a few hours before bedtime. Maybe it's just because I have a toddler who had many medical issues as an infant and I'm burned out. Maybe I'll feel different when I return to work. Or maybe I won't.

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  10. I say I am an interventional radiologist. Nobody in the world knows what that is. Then I rapidly change the subject.

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    1. The ACR is trying to change the image of radiology in the general population, mostly because nobody knows what a radiologist is, let alone an interventional one. I usually say radiologist, and leave it at that. Most people assume I'm a tech of some sort; some go so far as to ask me whether I do ultrasound or x-rays.

      On the other hand, I feel guilty about minimizing the image of a radiologist-as-physician, like I'm doing a disservice to the field of radiology. Guess you can't win 'em all (for me, anyway).

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  11. I say I am a surgeon. When they ask what kind of surgeon, I always say mediocre.

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    1. Haha! I think Might have to try that one too! Ends the conversation quickly I am sure!

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    2. PERFECT. I will have to try this myself. with "doctor", of course.

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  12. To play the devil's advocate, I get pretty annoyed when people provide vague information about their educations background because they don't want to "intimidate" me with their Ivy league education. I actually met a woman who told me attended a "small college in Providence" that I "would not likely have heard of". I already knew she had gone to Brown and disliked her on the spot.

    I wonder if being equally vague about our professions is what those "other women" are reacting to.

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  13. My experience with other moms in general:

    "I am a doctor" = damnation
    "But I work part time." = redemption

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  14. Apparently I spend to much time with Medical People bc 1. I think it is ridiculous to be intimidated by what someone does? Why not just a "that must be interesting" or some equally simple comment and move on! In my opinion people's careers alone shouldn't define who they are. All that said people would do well to be better informed of what different specialties are as the 2 mentioned above as "they wouldn't know what it is anyways" could help a good many people, sure has been a benefit to myself (physiatry)!

    Erica

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  15. Apparently I spend to much time with Medical People bc 1. I think it is ridiculous to be intimidated by what someone does? Why not just a "that must be interesting" or some equally simple comment and move on! In my opinion people's careers alone shouldn't define who they are. All that said people would do well to be better informed of what different specialties are as the 2 mentioned above as "they wouldn't know what it is anyways" could help a good many people, sure has been a benefit to myself (physiatry)!

    Erica

    ReplyDelete

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