“Sweetheart, you’re too young to understand,” my patient — a man in his 60s, someone accustomed to commanding a room — barked at me from his hospital bed. Medical problems had recently upended his life, and he was having a hard time adjusting. “I can’t believe I have to talk about this stuff to a young girl.”
I’m a young, female doctor. Calling me ‘sweetie’ won’t help me save your life.
It’s not just condescending. To provide patients with the best possible care, I need their trust. By Faye Reiff-Pasarew in The Washington Post
I hear it all the time. Though I’m 34 and have been an attending physician for several years, after nearly a decade of medical training, patients routinely ask how old I am, tell me I look like “a baby” and, most infuriating, call me “cute” or “adorable,” as if I were a preschooler playing dress-up. A few have even asked to be seen by a “real” doctor instead of a “girl.” It’s an experience that’s not unique to me but familiar to many other young women in the profession. And while young men may similarly struggle to prove themselves as doctors, they’re never called “sweetie.” Continue reading