When will the doctor be in?

/ posted in: Reading

Newsweek this week as a My Turn essay by a black female doctor discussing how people never believe she’s actually the doctor even after she does exams.

Oh honey I’ve been there. I wear a name tag with my name and a big “Dr.” in front of it. People stare at tag and ask if I’m the vet. Most of the time I really want to say no and offer to find them another vet to look at their animal. I don’t like dealing with stupid people.

I have had people refuse to let me examine their dogs because I’m female. I wish them a hearty and heartfelt farewell. I don’t need to deal with that crap.

I used to work with a strong male vet. If I needed a big dog lifted or restrained and he wasn’t busy I used to get him to hold for me. As soon as he walked in the room all client questions were directed to him. Even if I answered, the next question would still be directed to him. I was older and had been in practice longer but he was still perceived as the figure of authority. (Sometimes I’d use that on purpose if the people were being difficult. I have a low tolerance of stupid.)

My favorites are when the client says that she wants the same treatment that (insert male doctor) gave her last time because that worked really well. Looking at the chart I see that I’m the only doctor who has ever treated this for her. I’ve learned not to point that out. People get very angry when contradicted.

The author says that it happens more to her because she’s black and female than it happens to white female doctors. Maybe. I just know it happens to me alot. Veterinary medicine is about 50-50 male-female. But I still have clients who say, “Oh, look Foo-Foo! We’re going to see a girl!” like it is the greatest of novelties. And yes, about 75% of the time I saw them last year.

I do work with a female Indian doctor. She has people who will refuse to see the “foreigner.” She was born but not raised in the U.S. I saw a client who last summer had her dog in for a lump on the leg. The Indian doctor recommended removal and pulled blood for pre-anesthetic screening. The client never brought the dog in for the scheduled surgery. Now she is in for me to check the lump because it is growing. She says nastily that “you had some foreign doctor in here last year who said that it needed to come off.” She wanted someone else (presumably non-foreign) to confirm this because she doesn’t trust people like that. So she waited 9 months to have me say it is bigger now and still needs to come off and we need to repeat the expensive bloodwork. Her prejudice just cost her a bunch of money and made her dog suffer longer.