Overlooked Being a Woman in Medicine

Submission by: Sukhpreet Janda, OMSIII

Women In Medicine Month: Podcast Spotlight
Image from: http://blog.pepid.com/2019/09/05/women-in-medicine-month-podcast-spotlight/

When I’m at the library talking to my female peers, the conversation frequently comes up that we are not recognized in medicine. When someone asks what I’m pursing and I reply “medicine”, the next question is,

“No, like a doctor. I’m in medical school.”

“Oh, like for nurses right?”

At this point, I tend to give up and just say okay. But this conversation has happened more than a couple times, and for many of my female peers, it’s a similar story. Even on rotations, I can see how sometimes I am treated more like the student whose job it is to go fetch things and console crying children while the male students get taught medicine. What’s sad is when female residents and attendings acknowledge this is happening and say they have had to face it as well.

Here’s a quote from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Woman’s Worth to further illustrate how I and many women in the field of medicine feel on a daily basis:

“…the more of us who understand the game and see through the lie and forge ahead in support of every other woman’s right to a passionate response to life, the more we will hasten the end of our jail term. Women have been imprisoned for ages, and in our cells, our hearts, we have carried our true feelings like sleeping children, our spiritual issuance, our love. The prison walls are melting. We’re almost out. And when we fly free, we will carry with us such gifts to the outside world. Our gifts haven’t atrophied; they have grown in power. They have been waiting for centuries, and so have we.

Let’s keep our eyes on the sky. They’ll throw tomatoes; they’ll lie about us and try to discredit us. When we rise, they’ll try to undermine us. But when they do, we’ll remember the truth and bless our enemies and find strength in God. The regime of oppression is almost over; its life force is waning, and only its ghost remains. Don’t tarry too long to mourn its effects; celebrate and rejoice in the new. The past is over. Wipe the dirt off your feet.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth

Marianne Williamson’s poem really emphasizes standing together, embracing your qualities, and moving forward to prove your worth.

So yes, I am a woman in medicine, studying to be a doctor. I am compassionate, caring, take the time to listen, can console many crying children (which parents and other patients sure appreciate during the visit), anticipate what my patients need and have that ready, sense my patients’ insecurities and fears and address these in a nonjudgmental and caring way, ALL while being their doctor and working with them to provide the best care possible.

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