Advice for New Female Doctors

Accept that you'll answer to 'nurse' a lot

by Gomer Blog Team

Disclaimer: This post is from GomerBlog, a satirical site about healthcare.

Never touch your hair. It cannot be down, and it cannot look fancy. Optional styles include bun, ponytail, or braid. I might as well shave it off! I hear you thinking it – we've all thought it – but it's wrong. The only thing worse than looking like a woman that's too hot is looking like you're not a woman at all.

Woman? Sorry, I meant girl.

Never touch your phone. Male doctors who touch their phones are using them as information gathering and analyzing devices. They are on the cutting edge of technology and medicine. They are basically Steve Jobs in a white coat.

Not you. Girl doctors who touch their phones are texting their boyfriends. Worse, they're texting their babysitters. How's Amy doing in the NICU? Have they taken her off the ventilator yet? This is the problem with girl doctors. They are very distracted. They are not committed to the cause.

Do not take a lunch break. They will assume that you are breastfeeding. Don't have a baby? Doesn't matter. Maybe you are breastfeeding yourself. On this note, do not take maternity leave. Maternity leave places an unfair burden on those around you. Think of the patients, after all. You're in the caring profession. Plus, you work at a hospital; just have the baby during your lunch break! (Though, like we said, do not take a lunch break. They will assume you are birthing a baby.)

Names you should learn to answer to: sweetheart, nurse, honey, baby, nurse, miss, nurse, and nurse. Oh, you think as long as you introduce yourself as a doctor it will be OK? Listen. We've tried everything. White coats, name tags the size of a road sign, a bright red badge with MD in bold letters ... some glass ceilings are just not made to be broken. You're gonna be nurse till the day you die, sweetie.

That said: do not wear nursing scrubs. There are scrubs for nurses and scrubs for doctors and this is how the hierarchy stays intact. Scrubs for nurses are made for women and so they fit women's bodies. Scrubs for doctors are unisex and so they fit men's bodies.

Don't worry, though. Even though you are wearing the baggiest cotton pajamas possible, your patients and colleagues will still find your body worthy of their attention and admiration. When they offer up their words of praise about your ass or your boobs while you are fulfilling your professional responsibilities, make sure to be polite in your response. They're just being nice! Learn to take a compliment. Learn to smile. Didn't they teach you anything in nursing school?

Wait, what? Medical school? You're a nurse AND a doctor?!

Never cry. Never look like you're about to cry. Never look like you just cried. Never appear cold or emotionless. There's only one emotion for you, and that's gratitude. You're lucky to be here, baby.



so help me understand why being called a nurse is undesirable? I am a nurse who has been called a doctor and I didn't find THAT error a problem. we are all PROFESSIONAL educated health r the other- we are complementary in our roles.

And don’t forget “ girls” that someday you’ll be wishing to hear those vulgar, misplaced and mysoginistic remarks when your looks are gone. That was the sage advice I received from my supervisors in response to my complaints over unwanted touching and remarks from MD’s back in the dark ages. “ Enjoy it while it lasts”. Eventually years later, I would be mistaken as the MD when I rounded with young male hospitalists who certainly weren’t “ old enough to be real doctors.” It’s a mad, mad, world. Best wishes on a long, satisfying career.

Answering to "Nurse" is a good thing!!! Patients recognize that if they are in need of something---anything---a nurse will get the job done!!!!

I graduated medical school over 20 years ago. Yes, sexism exists and I don’t see much progress since then. Yes, people still assume I’m a nurse when they see me in scrubs. My experience is that it doesn’t matter whether the scrubs are baggy or not, or how you style your hair. I’m a 50 year old woman who can’t be bothered with makeup, etc, and male patients still grab me and make lewd comments. Yes, patients will flat out tell you that your time is less valuable than the male doctors’ in your group. Yes, patients will expect more time and effort out of you than your male equivalent. They’ll call you “seeetheart” on the regular. It’s wrong, and it needs called out.
But the tone of this article is off putting.

Question - why is it an 'insult' to be mistaken for being an RN instead of a MD...???
What about RN's who may be mistakenly addressed as 'Doctor'...should they be flattered...?
I find the assumed stereotyping and hierarchy where MD's are at the pinnacle is as fundamental problem as the stereotyping by gender.
I've been mistaken for being the 'guy who is coming to hook up my TV' by a hospital patient, and didn't get all up in arms about it - in fact to that particular patient, the 'television guy' was probably a much MORE important individual than the doctor on call coming to address his CHF.

This would be hilarious if it weren't true - however I did almost laugh out loud at a few of them!Oh and the author forgot to mention how many times we "girls" are mistaken for the cleaning staff even though our scrubs are worn by the medical staff. sigh. I just smiled and got a glass of water for the patient who requested it and then said, 'btw I'm the doctor who will be taking care of you'.

Clever satire is wry, not degrading to others. This author, article missed the mark. Just how derogatory to nurses is this?

Simple solution ... a universal single color of clothing ... scrubs, lab coats which can be only worn by physicians ... red would seem appropriate. For female physicians ... do not respond to any address by a non-physician but 'doctor'. When addressed by a male physician without appropriate title ... respond in kind with such retorts as sure honey,, sweet buns, etc ... it will not take long when non-physicians see the male physicians addressing the female physicians by title ... the indoctrination will happen.


Oh that made me so happy. No words here..just gratitude.

I get satire but was surprised to read through this on the Medscape site Not a good choice for a more serious website
In part I fear truly young women just starting out taking this the wrong way. There is an element of truth ( I am female with over 30 years in the white coat with hair tied back) but it could be disheartening.

You forgot to mention dodging!!! Practice dodging those grabs for the random body part!

It's incredible that things have not changed since I was an intern 40 years ago.

The answer to "why should it bother me to be called a nurse" is that I went to college for 4 years, medical school for 4 years, then did 2 years of general surgery followed by 4 years of urology--I think I am just a bit more well trained than a nurse. Family members don't call a male sitting a desk working on the computer "nurse". Even if they are one.

Okay, I wondered how many nurses (and I'm a nurse practitioner to be clear, not a physician) would jump on this. The author was not making disparaging remarks about nurses or nursing. The problem is the common assumption that if you are female, you must be a nurse, not a doctor. Many of my male colleagues who are RN's are assumed to be doctors by patients because they are men. The world has changed, but humans lives for 70 tom80 years on average. Many of our older population lived the best time of their lives when nurses really were women, and men were doctors. The article was witty, well written, and meant to cut a side eye to continued assumption and sexism in the workplace and society. Nothing is personal. Ever.

Thank you, and the comments posted from some nurses and some male doctors above reinforce the point. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a nurse, but why is it assumed that a woman is a nurse and a man is a doctor? I think it is still a cultural expectation, even though my medical school class over a quarter of a century ago was half female. Why then is it that we are told it is our fault when someone makes that mistake- we weren't dressed right, we didn't behave right- people seem comfortable in offering "friendly advise" they would never dream of offering a male doctor. The core problem is not a patient making an incorrect assumption- people make incorrect assumptions about many things- it is the culture promoted in the work environment where the woman doctor is assumed by her colleagues and co-workers to be doing something wrong when these mistakes occur. Thankfully, this culture is not everywhere anymore, but it still exists in some places.

It's painful to myself and many, many other men to know that women are still being subjected to this unacceptable treatment.

I do not believe the intent of the author was to diminish the value of the nurse but to highlight the fact that society still assumes men are the doctors and women the nurses. I do identify with the satirical humor of this essay and it does highlight gender bias women face in the medical field.

I have been a physician for about 20 year and have loved (almost) every minute of it. I have gently reminded patients that it is "Doctor Sweetie" or "Doctor Honey". I have faced sexism by female physician as well as male. There has been improvement, however slow. I am disappointed in the angry tone of this blog. Anger destroys oneself - not the other person. Young women (regardless of profession) need our encouragement and support. Let's encourage the positive.

The most socially significant parts of this funny article are about women doctors not taking lunch breaks or colleagues will presume you are expressing breast milk, running to a daycare center to breast feed or birthing a baby. Male physicians give appropriate advice to patient mothers but is it too much to ask that female physicians be allowed some dignity when they become mothers? If women can work through pregnancy up until the day they deliver, shouldn't they be expected to return to work the next day; this presumption borders on cruelty. Presuming women do only silly things on their phones and not technical parts of their job also reveals a double standard. The well-done humor is likely to impact male physicians more than professional requests; humor might bring a needed cultural change by being more memorable. I have great respect for nurses so being called a nurse should not be derogatory but it does cause confusion about job responsibilities. Women physicians are frowned upon if they don't do the work of a nurse and a doctor (exhausting) while male doctors are not required to do both jobs but save their time for doctoring duties so they are paid more. Female physicians are paid considerable less but to work as mothers, daycare and home care will cost them far more; most women don't leave medical school with less debt. I needed a good laugh so this article was therapeutic for me but it was distressing to read the comments of the nurses who were insulted. Girls, we need to take care of each other in the work place and have each others backs, no matter what our job description.

It would help if everyone from physicians, nurses, PAs to janitors didn't wear stethoscopes either around their necks or in their pockets!

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