Nursing Voices

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lady Doctors

Doctors were considered gods the year I entered nursing school. Make no mistake about it, they ruled the hospital. Nurses made coffee for for them, carried their charts as the made their rounds, and surrendered their seat in the nurses station whenever they entered the room. Oh yes, and did I mention that all the doctors were men? Of course there was the occasional lady doctor like the one on this book cover. Lady doctors were an oddity, and the good-old-boy medical establishment hated them. I remember hearing doctors at the nurses station blaspheming women who wanted to be doctors. They were angry that a woman might take a spot away from a man who wanted to enter medical school. “After all,” they said, “they are just going to quit medicine when they get married."

I noticed that attitudes about lady doctors started changing as the years went by. Younger men were entering medicine, and they brought with them more progressive attitudes about women in the workplace. Change came slowly. Many male doctors still felt that female medical staff, like Nora Meade, M.D., should only work as a pediatrician. The attitude was, “Women are meant to have children, and if they wanted to work, they should only work with kids.” The first lady doctor I worked with treated the nurses as her colleagues. She never demanded that we wait on her, and she treated us with respect. She even said that we could call her by her first name! I know this sounds odd by today’s standards, but back then, treating a nurse as an equal was considered revolutionary. She also encouraged many of my nursing colleagues to continue their education, and to advance the profession of nursing. The women entering medicine back then were progressive, and they were fighters. They rocked the boat and bucked an archaistic medical establishment in order to get what they wanted.

I’m really happy that things are changing, and that women continue to make strides in the field of medicine. Lady doctors, you rock. Keep rocking the boat.


Blogger Labor Nurse said...

Hell ya!

That woman doc you knew should be a public speaker on respect for women and the nursing profession. She could teach a few docs I know a thing or two.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous may said...

and i thought it only happened in the know, that whether you are pregnant, when a doctor comes, you automatically stand up to offer him your chair.


12:50 AM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Female doctors are more in the forefront than ever.

1:04 PM  
Blogger The Angry Medic said...

Grrl power yeah! Some of the best doctors I've seen and been taught by are women. I've never detected any sort of glass ceiling in all the hospitals I've been to.

(Idealistic, I know, but hey, at least it's better than it used to be.)

8:04 PM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

Yes in that regards it the medical field has come a long ways...but I still hear the odd male doctor grumble....we laugh at them now when they expect us to give up our seats...hey I have to do my charting as well you know....go find your own seat.....there are some docs that are just great and would gladly give up their seat for anyone...and even go as far as to find one.....thank goodness times change.....I don't think I would have made it in nursing back than I am far to outspoken.....

great post.....

btw...I change my URL....pleasec come and visit me

4:15 PM  
Blogger 911DOC said...

i like 'em so much i married one!

12:15 AM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

This was thought provoking... because I've been through some changes in my field, too.

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure where this statistic came from but just recently I read that 52 percent of med school attendees are now women. Sadly the article was quoting the figure to state concerns over the "females" taking maternity leave or practicing part time..

I guess it is true, the more things change the more they stay the same...

10:59 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

While the female drs are a little more personable than the male ones, I still find them to be difficult. In fact, sometimes more so, like they have something to prove.

Pop by my blog and participate in my MEME about Real Nurses

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Iris: perhaps one person's "something to prove" is another person's "rocking the boat"? Just a thought. Jen

5:44 PM  
Blogger Doctor Mom said...

Here Here! Lady docs rock.

Times have definitely changed. When I was 9 months pregnant as a resident working 200 hours a month and just barely able to waddle around the emergency department, I joked that I needed to bring a chair from home and put my name on it, because the old battle-ax ER nurses were not going to give their chair up to any young resident, no matter how badly she needed it (and no... they didn't have a problem with me. They actually LIKED me.)

LOVED your post.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Spirit of 1976 said...

Though sadly nursing is still seen as "women's work", probably due to the low status of nursing as a profession. Speaking as a penis-owning student nurse, I think this is a shame.

I was doing an agency shift in a nursing home recently, and a care assistant said to me, "So, I understand you're training to be a doctor?"

Me: "No, I'm training to be a nurse."

Care Assistant: "A male nurse?"

As you might imagine, this drew a rather sarcastic response from me about gender-altering surgery...

4:15 AM  
Blogger Bladedoc said...

I like women docs, I'm married to a surgeon and she keeps me in the manner to which I've become accustomed. However data is not sexist. At this point the data shows that the average female physician works 60% of the hours of the average male physician of the same specialty. This is not a moral statement but it must be recognized for workforce planning especially when you look at the huge spike in need for physicians coming along as the boomers age.

10:16 AM  
Blogger "jew" "girl" said...

how would you say nurses are treated today versus when you first started? generally speaking...

1:28 AM  
Blogger ditzydoctor said...

HELL YEAH!!! thanks alot for the vote of confidence. it's not easy being a girl on the wards sometimes!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I once had a doctor tell me that "Women have no place in medicine." - the year? 2000. Go figure.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Linda M. said...

Where I work, the "old man" still has the seat!

8:44 PM  
Blogger Forty_Two said...

Alpha males should just go back to what they do best:

Climbing trees, eating bananas, and abusing everyone around them.

10:46 AM  

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