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Apparently women can't be doctors...

(118 Posts)
springboksaplenty Fri 08-Jul-11 09:41:08

Ok this is my first post on feminism and it is really just a rant. I have just finished a fourth night shift and am feeling quite a bit ranty.

Apparently, no matter how many times I introduce myself to people, using my title I am constantly referred to as 'nurse'. I don't have a problem with nurses it's just that that is not my job - as I said a number of times. Now this isn't the elderly who I can understand where they're coming from. But men - and women - who are 20-40 yrs old. I have admitted, diagnosed and treated and even operated on people, who have then turned round on ward round and claim they haven't seen a doctor all night. It is driving me crazy. I wear my badge around my neck with Dr on it (haven't changed it to the surgical ms. For this very reason). I even had a male nurse come in with me to chaperone and the patient looked to him to answer his questions. He was mid 30s.

And to top my night off, and what has sent me into this outraged rant, is that a male colleague (different specialty) turned up on my ward after having to be practically dragged there by continued calls by nursing staff, only to say to Sister 'don't worry dear it's fine'. Dear?! Who the fuck do you think you are? It's not fine you patronising shit do your bloody job and see to your patient.

And breathe...

TrillianAstra Fri 08-Jul-11 09:42:56

What country are you in?

And what century?


springboksaplenty Fri 08-Jul-11 09:49:34

This would be good old England. I am just currently finding it massively frustrating. I can understand it from the elderly and I don't mind the tiny little old ladies calling me a nurse. I do mind anyone below the age of say sixty doing it. And 20 year old lads calling me 'darling' is completely getting my goat.

CristinaTheAstonishing Fri 08-Jul-11 09:51:08

For me it was when I'd be in a bay and someone called 'nurse' and expected me to attend to them. I'd look around in search of the nurse. I must say I've got used to it now, it's usually just propping up in bed a bit better, not a biggie (although still needs hand washing before, hand washing after, sorting out the bedside table etc). If it's something more time consuming or specialised I ask them to use their bell for a nurse.

Bonsoir Fri 08-Jul-11 10:54:50

Is there something that you could do to make your demeanour more assertive? A lot of the way people treat us is how we project ourselves.

Dozer Fri 08-Jul-11 11:35:43

That's really bad, sorry OP.

bonsoir, so it's OP's demeanour and not other people's outdated, sexist assumptions? Nice.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 08-Jul-11 11:39:27

Yes, you need to practice a bit more arrogance superiority, springboksaplenty!

You know the joke:

Q: What's the difference between God and a doctor?

A: God doesn't think he's a doctor!

(And I'm not trying to insult you, as a doctor, by the way grin)

Being serious, I'm sorry to hear you're experiencing this, and I'm astounded, frankly.

Bonsoir Fri 08-Jul-11 11:39:41

That is not what I said. I am trying to help the OP find a practical solution, given that she is unable (however dispiriting that might be) to change people's assumptions so she might try changing herself (a bit).

OpusProSerenus Fri 08-Jul-11 11:46:46

Dozer, although I agree with you I can kind of see what Bonsoir is suggesting. I have worked with younger women in my profession who are enraged that this happens to them but don't project a professional image. The classic case was the young female doctor on the BBC series recently who whined about not being taken seriously but, when it suited her, wanted to do the girly bit of simpering about her pink stethoscope and wearing pink trainers with scrubs.

I am not a medic but am in another senior, non-uniformed clinical role and whilst I have had the odd bit of this have not had too much and do wonder if it was because we always dressed in suits/smart seperates which reinforced the role to the public. My younger colleagues dress much more casually; although still smart they would probably not wear a jacket for example.

I'm not suggesting this is right, or a total solution to general ignorance, but I think what Bonsoir is suggesting is that it may be easier to make a small change in oneself than in the thinking of the public.

Longtalljosie Fri 08-Jul-11 11:56:54

Could you wear a stethoscope round your neck? I'm only being half facetious, people are very influenced by what they see on telly. I do hear you, though. I'm a journalist and work late. When I explain to people I work shifts I'm invariably asked if I'm a nurse.

suzikettles Fri 08-Jul-11 11:57:21

I work with two other people in the same non clinical role across a large Health Board and we all take taxis fairly frequently to other parts of the Board.

Taxi drivers always assume that:
- I am a doctor
- Colleague A is a nurse
- Colleague B is a medical secretary


No idea why. We have mused about clothing differences, accent differences, body language differences. We're all female though so it's nothing to do with gender.

I can see how this would be extremely frustrating for you op. Particularly as it's not like you'll be the first female doctor they'll see. People are odd. And annoying.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Fri 08-Jul-11 12:01:59

I don't see why wearing a pink stethoscope and pink trainers constitutes "unprofessional". Why should that be treated differently to someone with a blue stethoscope and trainers? Because sexism exists.

Oh and "whiny" and "simpering" are also extremely sexist remarks.

Bonsoir Fri 08-Jul-11 12:04:31

Some of the teachers at my DD's school talk down to the SAHMs as if they had absolutely no clue about education and were unable to grasp simple concepts. Very much the "leave it in our capable hands and don't bother your head with it, you non-working dimwit". I do find the part-time teachers (who are bringing up their children most of the week) a lot more open-minded as to the likely level of education and professional experience of SAHMs than are the FT teachers.

I find it best to send a few clear verbal messages up front to avoid confusion.

Alibabaandthe80nappies Fri 08-Jul-11 12:05:26

This amazes me. My Mum is a doctor and the last time she had this problem she was 25 - and looked about 18. That was 40 years ago.

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 08-Jul-11 12:06:37

I don't work in a medical setting, however it used to be that in meetings (due to the nature of my job I am ususally the only woman and probably the youngest person there) I was assumed to be the secretary, and to take the minutes.

I think it was becausae I was young, now I am older it happens a lot less, as I have gained stature, and probably act in a more imperious manner. I can't imagine anyone assuming I was a secretary now.

I agree with Bonsoir to some respect. can you not behave in a more arrogance surgeon like manner, barging through swing doors and scattering ward clerks out of your way?

I am sorry though, it is bloody frustrating and gets on your nerves.

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 08-Jul-11 12:08:29

Do you look very young, OP?

I would think a doctor in trainers and colour co-ordinated stethoscope, whether pink, blue or bright green would look distinctly unprofessional.

Iteotwawki Fri 08-Jul-11 12:10:02

If you let it irritate you that much you've got a lot of crap heading your way.

I know it's annoying. I know exactly how you feel - I qualified in 1998, I've been a consultant for 3 years, and yet the other day a female colleague (new to the hospital so didn't know me but that's no excuse, I'd introduced myself) dismissed my concerns about a patient with "yes nurse, but we'll wait for the anaesthetist to make that decision when he gets here - where is he?"

I've been mistaken for a nurse, a secretary, a midwife, an orderly - never once a doctor. I wear scrubs (navy), a stethoscope and a large ID badge with doctor on it.

I honestly sympathise, but you have to smile, let it wash over you and find something else to sink your anger into.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Fri 08-Jul-11 12:11:07

"I would think a doctor in trainers and colour co-ordinated stethoscope, whether pink, blue or bright green would look distinctly unprofessional." Maybe. But OpusProSerenus was specifically citing pink as being unprofessional. She didn't say coloured.

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 08-Jul-11 12:13:10

I would find it a bit depressing that a female doctor would want pink stethoscpes tbh.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Fri 08-Jul-11 12:19:14

But why do you feel like that GetOrf?

TrillianAuror Fri 08-Jul-11 12:22:11

Stethoscopes should be grey. They are a tool not a fashion accessory. You are a doctor, you are not 12, you don't need an "I heart Take That" sticker on your stethoscope either.

OpusProSerenus Fri 08-Jul-11 12:23:03

Hand dived, I mentioned pink only because I was taking about that specific case because she wound me up no end when I watched the programme - if it was a young man doing the same with blue or the colour of his football team I would feel exactly the same way.

Ultimately we all have to face prejudices of one sort or another in our lives but it is up to us if we choose to set ourselves up to face some we don't have to. If she was my daughter I would be advising her it is not wise to joke about yourself being a "Barbie" and therefore insisting on pink accessories/instruments and complaining you are not taken seriously.

And BTW whining and simpering are not sexist as some men do both of those things too and are every bit as irritating when they do. Are you suggesting this behaviour should not be not commented on because it comes from a woman? That is sexist IMO

GetOrfMoiLand Fri 08-Jul-11 12:23:34

I would think it is an extension of that whole 'pink is for girls' depressing marketing crap.

It would remind me of playboy logo'd shit and Jordan's pink bentley.

jetgirl Fri 08-Jul-11 12:24:01

I understand your frustration, op. I was off sick last week and told my faculty leader I had managed to get a gp appt. Her immediate response was to ask what HIS diagnosis was. Why she assumed my gp was a man really annoyed me.

Funnily enough my mum wears scrubs at work (she is nurse) but some patients assume she is a doctor. Maybe that's to do with age and experience though?

LilBB Fri 08-Jul-11 12:25:05

I don't understand how people can confuse doctors and nurses. I can understand how people confuse nurses, midwives, physios, health assistants etc as their uniforms are very similar. I was in hospital recently on a Gynae ward and saw 4 doctors. 3 female and 1 male. 2 had their own clothes on and 2 wearing scrubs. None where dressed anything like the nurses uniform.

I feel your pain a little. I'm nowhere near as qualified as a doctor but work in the military aerospace industry which is very male dominated. The women get treated differently from the men. It's often assumed the one woman in the meeting will take minutes, or that the men are higher up, or the women will sort out the tea. It doesn't help that most of our executives and board are men and women are assumed to work there for the benefits for working mothers. I don't know if it's typical of the industry or just any male dominated area. I like to mutter comments about how it will all change when I'm CEO.

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