Thanks for the compliment, but I’m not a nurse

Thanks for the compliment, but Im not a nurse

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I love nurses. My grandmother was a nurse’s aide. My aunt is a nurse. My mother is a nurse. Nurses have been by my side for the most frightening and important experiences in my life (in the hospital and out). However, I’m not a nurse. I’m a doctor. And when someone calls me nurse, I hate it.

Here’s why:

1. I hate being called “nurse,” because I feel like it undoes the work of thousands of female physicians before me.

Recently, I was on service with one of the most accomplished female physicians at my institution. Our first patient welcomed us into his room with this: “Can I call you back? The nurses want to talk to me about something.”

One hundred and fifty-four years ago, he would have certainly been correct. However, in 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of female medical school graduates later, women are now poised to outnumber their male colleagues by 2017. Still, I can’t say I feel secure in my place as a female physician. We are still underpaid and under-promoted compared to our male colleagues. To me, it feels like we’ve just splintered the shell of this previously male-dominated field. Being called “nurse” reminds me of the enormous gender gap I have yet to cross. Overpowering gender stereotypes will take more than outnumbering the men in our field.

Back in my patient’s room, I crafted a response in my head.

“Haven’t you heard of Anna Howard Shaw? Jocelyn Elders? Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman? We are your doctors, and we are women! Hear us roar!”

Luckily, before I spoke, my attending simply rolled her eyes and gracefully continued with rounds.

2. I hate being called “nurse,” because nurses have reason to hate it, too. If you’ve ever seen a doctor struggle to administer a medication, boost a patient in a bed, or try to organize the minute-to-minute care of a hospitalized patient, you can probably understand why. Nursing school has provided them with a different set of skills, approaches, and goals for patients. While my medical school classmates and I studied cyclic AMP and the Starling curve, the nursing students studied the process of patient-centeredness. The last thing a busy nurse needs is a resident who assumes she could do a nurse’s job. It would be annoying (maybe insulting) for me to accept the title.

3. I hate being called “nurse,” because it further separates me from my male colleagues. When I discuss this topic with my female co-residents, there is an implicit understanding.

When I discussed this with a male colleague, he replied, “Why would someone call you nurse?”

I laughed, but with a trace of jealousy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the first assumption about my career be the right one — to not even understand why someone might think otherwise? I caught myself glaring at him and imagining a caduceus-handled silver spoon in his mouth.

“Why shouldn’t you have to defend your job to patients like I do? Would they think I was a better doctor if I had your short, graying hair and wore your tacky bowties?” I heard myself blurt out.

That was a long night.

4. I hate being called “nurse,” because it sets up expectations for my relationship with a patient that I will not be able to fill. I cannot get you the medication that alleviates your pain or quiets your cough. I will be your advocate, but often after your nurse has called to my attention what I should advocate for. Your nurse will dress your wounds, clean you when you are not able, and tell that your family called. I will be the one who wakes you at 5:30 am and orders the medication that gives you diarrhea and tastes like dirt. Don’t call me “nurse,” because I cannot be a nurse to you.

It’s not that doctors’ and nurses’ roles don’t overlap. They certainly do. Nevertheless, we are different providers with different skills. It is in this very difference that there is the greatest potential for learning and growth.

I can’t explain all of this every time someone calls me nurse. So, for now, I’ll stick to my go-to line for this circumstance.

“Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not your nurse. I’m your doctor.”

Megan S. Lemay is an internal medicine resident. 

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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  • http://www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice Robertson

    Yikes….this sounds like a feminist diatribe that will do nothing but make most patients roll their eyes. Your reaction isn’t going to do much to help gain the respect you seem to feel entitled to with either nurses or patients.

    • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

      If a physician make a smart remark like this to me I’d likely find another. Patients shouldn’t be treated with disrespect including eye rolls.

  • Antigonos CNM

    Don’t be too distressed. When my mother was terminally ill, in 1980, it was just when nurses stopped wearing white uniforms and caps. Mother would put on her call light, and when a young lady arrived, in a colorful patterned top, and white pants and shoes, my mother would say “Oh, I’m sorry — I didn’t want a waitress. I was ringing for a nurse”.

    What has driven me bonkers over my 40+ year career is when patients tell me “You’re such a good nurse–you should have been a doctor”. If I’d WANTED to be a doctor, I would have been one, darn it! I WANTED to be just what I am — a nurse midwife [CNM]

    • ShabbyTime

      You can get a doctorate in nursing–a PhD or DNP.

  • ninguem

    The big mistake is thinking the NURSES know how to dress that wound or reposition the patient, or even take basic vitals…

    The doctor still needs to know these things, to know when the patient isn’t getting better because the nurse is not doing things right in the first place.

    The call for the “250/130″ hypertensive emergency, to find the nurse is measuring blood pressure with a cuff that’s grossly too small, bolstered with tape because the Velcro won’t hold. Measure with proper-sized cuff, normal blood pressure.

    Any of a number of things. No, nurses don’t screw up any more than docs do, or any other human being in any other human endeavor, but the doc still needs to know what the nurses do, in order to recognize when it’s not being done right.

  • Kay Dee

    I’ve never had trouble distinguishing between my doctor and my nurse when in the hospital. The nurse is the one who stays in my room the longest, and actually hands-on takes care of me all day and night. I understand that the doctor is taking care of me as well – just from a greater distance.

    • Suzi Q 38

      Yes,

      The nurse sometimes is more observant than the doctor, partially because the patient is under h/her care for a 12 hour shift or more.

      When my FIL was deemed incompetent, and in a “vegetative-like” state by his second wife’s medical expert, we went to court, because we knew otherwise. He had had 3 strokes, but he was not incompetent; he was confused, tired, and aphasic.

      For our expert witness, I pulled detailed descriptions of my FIL’s days after his stroke, proving that he was awake and alert. He also was far from incompetent. The nurses were the ones that provided the best detailed notes and accurate description of his condition at the time.

      The doctors helped too, but their notes were not as good.
      This was because their visits were understandably shorter.

  • Elvish

    “”Your nurse will dress your wounds, clean you when you are not able, and tell that your family called. I will be the one who wakes you at 5:30 am and orders the medication that gives you diarrhea and tastes like dirt. Don’t call me “nurse,” because I cannot be a nurse to you.””

    What was all that about ? Is this how you see yourself as a doctor ?

    Were you wearing your white coat when she called you a “nurse” ?
    Perhaps this question is irrelevant, I am just curious.

    • Daniel

      Lots of people in hospitals, including nurses, wear white coats.

      • Elvish

        Right, which is wrong. If she wasn`t wearing a white coat and she was seeing the patient for the 1st time, then perhaps the patient got confused.
        If she had seen the patient before and had introduced herself to the patient, then I would ask the patient more questions to see if she is oriented.
        Our doctor here got sensitive and emotional instead if acting professional !

  • Guest

    “We are still underpaid and under-promoted compared to our male colleagues.”
    ~
    There might be reasons for this beyond the blind unthinking misogyny you seem so eager to see. Male doctors are less likely to take as much time off, are likely to put in more hours, are less likely to have breaks in
    their career to care for children. Many females don’t want to become
    cardiac surgeons, they want to be in a field like family medicine or
    pediatrics with more regular hours where they can job-share &/or cut
    down to part time as family needs require. Fifty percent of
    pediatricians are females, and thirty-three percent of those female
    pediatricians are part-timers. There’s nothing wrong with choosing
    lifestyle over career, but it’s unedifying to complain that it’s “not
    fair” that a surgeon working 50 hours a week makes significantly more
    than a pediatrician working 37.

    • The Hero Complex

      She isn’t being blind, as you have your facts wrong. Please see any physician compensation report and notice that men are paid more than women for the exact same specialty. No one was comparing a surgeon to a pediatrician. Same job/responsibilities/hours, less pay.

      • Guest

        Do you have a link for this? I know it is not true in my group as we are all paid by a standard payment schedule based on productivity. But I have heard this and would love to read an article or see data supporting this.

  • Anthony D

    Yes, I hate a lot of things as well. But You don’t see me ranting away about it!

  • NormRx

    “Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not your nurse. I’m your doctor.”

    With an attitude like that, you would never be my doctor.

    • Guest

      But if a man said it, it would be ok, right? Though you’d never be so stupid as to assume a male hospital employee was a nurse!

      • May Wright

        During my father’s last hospitalization, he kept referring to one of the nurses who happened to be male as “the orderly”. The nurse never said a word. I corrected dad once but he persisted.

        I apologized to the poor “orderly” once, but he just smiled and said it was no big deal.

        Not every battle is worth fighting, truly.

        • Guest

          I completely agree. However, if a patient called a male employee “nurse,” and the male employee responded with “Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not your nurse, I’m your doctor” I doubt a single problem would have issue with that much less fire that physician for saying such a thing!

          Methinks people find the author whiny when most female physicians know exactly what she’s talking about.

          • Guest

            Whoops, I meant single “patient” would have issue. Pardon the typo.

          • Bill98

            Doubt all you like, you would be wrong.

        • ShabbyTime

          I don’t think orderlies exist anymore, at least not in the US.

      • NormRx

        Well, another poster with a chip on her shoulder and no I would never assume a male hospital employee was a nurse, doctor, orderly, pharmacist or the hospital CEO.

        • Guest

          And you would not use a male physician who corrected you when you mistakenly thought they had a different position because of a “bad attitude?”

          • Bill98

            I believe that’s precisely what Norm said, and I’ll say it too. A physician who had that attitude would not be MY physician. See how that works? No mention of the gender of said physician. You try to read sexism into every comment. What a sad view of the world you must have.

          • Guest

            LOL. Way to take it to the next level. Apparently asking for clarification equates with a “sad view of the world.”

            Just LOL.

          • Bill98

            “LOL” is the best that you can do? Seriously, you would have been better off just ignoring the comment. What’s next? Any angry “smiley”? I quiver at the thought.
            You were not “asking for clarification”. Neither response from Norm included gender, but both questions from you did. So, yes, it is sad, and pathetic, that you see sexism in all things.
            I now await the crushing retort of “LMAO”. Go ahead, I can take it…

          • Guest

            ROFLMAO!

  • Guest

    Let’s be truthful, please. You feel as though the term “nurse” is disrespectful and beneath you. You are a doctor, and you worked your ass off to become one! You are smarter than a nurse.

    I don’t disagree with a word you’ve posted (I also tire of being mistaken for a nurse) but let’s at least be honest about why.

    • Irene Strom

      Oh please. Some doctors are smarter than some nurses, and some nurses are smarter than some doctors. The important thing is to value everyone’s contribution and to do the best job we can for our patients.

      • Guest

        I’m sorry if you misunderstood me. I’m not saying that universally doctors are smarter than nurses, but you can bet that doctors THINK they are smarter than nurses.

      • guest

        Some nurses are smarter than doctors, but most doctors are smarter than most nurses.

      • ShabbyTime

        Many nurses ARE doctors. They have doctorate degrees such as the PhD or DNP.

    • Kay Dee

      “You are smarter than a nurse.”
      You undoubtedly have more education than a nurse, but that does not make you smarter than your nurse, or your patients for that matter. Some, yes, but certainly not all.

    • ShabbyTime

      *physician with the title of doctor

      Many nurses have doctorates as well.

  • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

    This whole article reads as if nurses are beneath you and you don’t want to be compared to them. There are many other ways you could have gone about empowering females. Belittling nurses is just going to make your life harder. Who do you think makes the decision on whether you get called at 3am?

    • Guest

      So when you are belittled you get vindictive and bitchy and wake up offenders at 3 AM? Lovely.

      • Guest

        Mean Girls III: The Nurses Strike Back

        • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

          Hah. I guess. Nurses are shoved around enough by enough people. Female physicians should have at least a little more understanding for what it is liked to be seen as less than. I guess as long as someone is beneath you in some way you can be on top in your own little way.

          • Guest

            Male surgical colleagues have commented to me at how completely nasty female nurses can be to female physicians. I think insecurity, resentment, and bitchiness run both ways among women in medicine, no matter who is on “top.”

      • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

        I am not saying that I do this or even that it’s right, but I know it’s done. Nurses at teaching hospitals will run cocky residents through the wringer. What would work out better for both is mutual respect. But if you’re going to disrespect nurses do you really think they are going to go out of their way to be respectful to you?

  • azmd

    It takes a lot of years of training, studying and staying up all night to get to be a doctor and it’s a highly stressful job. Although it is not necessarily a very rational response, there can be some frustration associated with not being recognized for what you have worked hard to become, and continue to work hard to be.

    At my hospital, nurses wear scrubs and physicians wear street clothes, so we don’t get confused with one another. On a regular basis, however, I am mistaken for a social worker or worse, a lawyer, so I have devised a response that I consider to be very effective. I stop, look wistful, and in an ever-so-slightly downtrodden tone say, “Oh…..no…I’m just one of the doctors.” For some reason this always cheers me up.

    • ShabbyTime

      You’re a physician with the title of doctor. Many nurses also have the title of doctor. And they have to work hard to earn that title as well.

  • May Wright

    “Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not your nurse. I’m your doctor.”

    But see, you don’t really mean that. It’s clear that you find it demeaning to be mistaken as a nurse, not a compliment, so that’s just a passive-aggressive snark at a patient who has inadvertently hurt your feelings.

    Try not to take your frustration with “the system” out on your patients. If they’re in hospital, they’re probably having a hard enough time of things already themselves.

    • Guest

      No, no. No matter how sick they are, patients who are not suitably deferential must be put in their place. Because, Social Justice!

      I’m about to have a South Park moment here: “Respect My Authoritah!”

    • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

      @DrMayWright:disqus you are absolutely correct! This is exactly what this article is all about. The eye-roll shows the level of disgust she has with the association and it;s completely disrespectful to the patient.

      • Noni

        Except it was not the author who rolled her eyes! Minor detail.

  • Mike C.

    Unfortunately you don’t sound like a doctor to me.

    • Guest

      I’m sure a male physician being confused with a nurse would find it delightful!

      • guest

        I love how the vast majority of these remarks disparaging the original post are being made by men. Or nurses.

        • Guest

          Pretty much. It’s boys against girls. Nurses against doctors. Rinse and repeat.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            Agreed. Kevin really needs to stop this craziness.

        • Mike C.

          Are you saying men and nurses read more?

      • Mike C.

        I am sorry, what a patient thinks of me does not validate my life, because they have no influence on me. Yes I can learn from them, and I work with them on their healthcare, but that has nothing to do with my confidence and perception of self. One can always choose to live the life of a victim.

        • Guest

          So how many times in your career has someone confused you for being the nurse?

          Venting about a frustration does not equate with living life as a victim!

          Next you’ll accuse African Americans for playing the victim card when they complained about “separate but equal.”

          • Mike C.

            I don’t make accusations after all I don’t know you. I do find it weird that one would use a nameless forum to vent frustrations rather than someone more intimate with their life.

            I have been confused for a nurse a few times when I’ve had to change into scrubs and haven’t worn my white coat if they got soiled. I’ve never felt compelled to correct the patient, because what does it matter? We are here to help the patient not make sure they know our position at the hospital. So as long as they are getting the care they need, I don’t see what difference it makes. Unless of course it’s important to you to make sure the teller at your bank knows you’re a doctor when you deposit the checks.

          • Guest

            Yes, I am sure as a male you are frequently confused for things other than the physician you are. You sound like a judgmental individual who has no clue what he’s sounding off about, but that’s ok. I won’t judge you the same way you judge the women commenting here.

          • Mike C.

            I really don’t know what sex has to do with this situation and why you keep bringing it up. Trust me, I have no problem expressing my opinions equally to a man or woman, especially when they are worried about something as insignificant as being called a nurse. I would take being called nurse all day long if it meant a 100% successful outcome rate, but hey that’s just what’s important to me, outcomes rather than taking everything that people say personally.

          • Guest

            Oh good. All this discussion need was the Race Card tossed in.

  • Irene Strom

    Megan-
    I’m a nurse and I also studied cyclic AMP and Starling’s curve. And your patients are’t intending insult if they refer to you as a nurse (just as no insult is intended when they refer to a male nurse as a doctor). Yes, it is sexism, but the best way to deal with it is to simply relax, and then introduce yourself and explain why you’re there.(Good morning, Ms/Mr Xxxx, I’m Megan Lemay, the Internal Medicine resident …). The patient will be educated and the situation then less stressful for you.

    • guest

      I am sorry that it is stressful for you when someone points out that physicians have more training than nurses. Just try to relax. It’s not intended as an insult, so there’s no need for you to defend your education.

    • Liz

      Yeah! I think the writer of the article has clearly shown her incorrect assumptions that nurses don’t knowledge from the foundation of their education. I also studied cyclic AMP, CYP450, etc as a 1st year nursing student, while doing my clinical rotations…..not just as an academic precursor to my later course of study. This is not about being a nurse or a doctor, but about basic appropriate introduction of oneself when entering a room with a patient! Get over your doctor/nurse complex and learn how to be polite .

      • Guest

        Wrong. It’s venting about the frustration with the inherent gender bias that exists when a woman walks into a room. Times are changing, but very very slowly.

        Imagine if you were Marie Curie and person after person assumed you were the cleaning lady and treated you as such. How would you feel?

        • Guest

          I’m sure that did happen to her. Apparently she didn’t waste her time whinging about it; she just got on with things.

          • Guest

            You’re right. She didn’t blog about it on the internet so clearly she never got upset about it, right?

          • Guest

            She left plenty of writings. How many of them were ranty screeds about how hard done by she was because she was a woman and everyone’s a meanypants and it’s all just so not faaaaair?

            Seriously. At least 50% of med school students are females. If medicine were truly such a terrible horrible no-good very bad hostile-to-women environment, what’s up with that?

          • Guest

            I don’t know; I’d never claim to have read all of her writings nor be able to read her mind posthumously. I have no doubt though she struggled with gender bias and *gasp* might even have complained about it a time or two!

            No one is claiming medicine was sooooo horrible to women. That’s your argument?

            It’s impressive to me that so many of the negative comments in here are from male posters. Guys don’t like exploration of feelings or discussion of feelings. Suck it up, shut up, move on. That is a very male way of handling adversity.

            How’s that for generalizing!

  • MikaBerner

    As a nurse practitioner hospitalist who wears a lab coat over street clothes, when I round, I usually go in to a patient’s room with their primary nurse. I am often called “the doctor” and in a friendly manner, give my correct title to the patient and state I am covering (work as a nocturnist) for their doctor.

    If they ask me for something like food or assistance, I have been known to chase down food for patients and/or their family members, get help with a boost or find a nursing assistant to assist with other tasks.

    I do get amused when a male nurse walks into the room and is always assumed to be the physician.

    On another note regarding the poster’s comment about the wage gap between men and women, I agree with her, and it exists across all health care professions as well. Male nurses generally make more than female nurses. There was an earlier article this year about how woman primary care physicians actually earn lower lifetime earnings than female PAs because the amount of time taken in residency, childbearing and what is known to economists, the pecuniary costs of being female.

    Debi Wong, Family Nurse Practitioner

    • Allison Falin

      As one who sits for boards next week, I can tell you that your comments ring true. The author’s article is poorly done and speaking as a nurse, if you do not know how to lift a patient up in the bed and get them some water, then perhaps you should be rethinking your career choice. Compassion doesn’t only come from nurses. Doctors could use a handy dose as well at the bedside.
      This sounds another female MD with a giant chip on her shoulder in the making. There are more than enough of those in the world.

      Oh, and don’t call me “Doctor”. I am not one, and if I had wanted to BE one, I would have gone to med school when I had the chance.

      • Jason Simpson

        Oh yeah, you are taking your “boards” huh? Yeah right, out of a cracker jack box.

        I could pass your “boards” right now with zero medical training.

        Your “boards” are a joke. Let me know when you take the PHYSICIAN board exams.

        • Allison Falin

          According to some of my physician friends and colleagues, the ANCC exam is not at all unlike the 3 residency exams that they took. Please, continue with your attitude, you will go so far in life.

        • ShabbyTime

          Why are you so defensive?

      • azmd

        It seems to me that there are quite a few posters here with chips on their shoulders, not all of them docs…

      • MikaBerner

        Oops, was wanting to upvote your comment about the ANCC boards, agree wholeheartedy. I hope something I wrote did not offend you, agree that Jason Simpson is a piece of work!

        • Allison Falin

          People like that who either are actually MDs or pose as them to troll boards are sad. I have yet to actually MEET a physician in my 17 years of nursing that actually feels that way about NPs or PAs. As far as the author goes, she needs to be honest and just say what is apparent in her article, “I hate being called a nurse because that type of work is beneath me. I am a doctor and have more important things to do than fluff pillows and dress wounds.”

          Of course, she is an intern and those were always the worst for attitude in every facility I ever worked in.

          I have seen a lot in my 17 years, 95% of the MDs that have crossed my path in peds and CCU were fantastic providers that were respectful and great to work with (almost all of them had PAs and NPs working with them or in their offices so they could cover hospital duty, btw). There was that 5% and without fail, they were almost always female MDs that were new/newer to the job.

          Thanks for the upvote.

          I send condolences to any of the other providers that work with Jason.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Jason isn’t even a physician. He flunked the NP boards, that’s why he seems to know so much about them. He a NP wannabe.

          • Allison Falin

            Well I fell sorry for him then. Being that bitter is no way to go through life.

    • Bill98

      One of the reasons that male “nurses” tend to make more money than female “nurses”, on average, is that men tend to become RNs, rather than LPNs. So, if you don’t make a distinction between the qualifications of the nurses involved, and many studies don’t, you don’t get an accurate answer.

      • MikaBerner

        Bill98: RNs do make higher salaries than LPNs, but salary surveys will state gender differences by degree, sometimes equivalent number of years of experience, and specialty. Any salary quote that states males nurse make higher salaries than female nurses without keeping variables equal is misleading and I apologize for my mis-generalization, it was not intended.

        My corrected statement should be that salary surveys show that male RNs make more than female RNs, likewise male NPs have higher salaries than female NPs

  • Tim

    Man, I thought this was a well thought out and respectful piece. People are super touchy.

    • Kari Ulrich

      Again…”Hate” is a strong word, one that should be used cautiously.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is a great article. It’s just hitting on a touchy subject.

    It seems to me that nurses often (not always, but often) feel undervalued– perhaps even disrespected– by doctors. So a doctor expressing frustration with being called a nurse just reads as further disrespect although it isn’t meant to be disrespectful. I think the author’s statement in #2 makes it clear that she means no disrespect.

    I also think it’s telling that many people commenting are interpreting the “Thank you for the compliment” line as demeaning. I think the author genuinely means it: that being a nurse is a noble profession and to be called a nurse is a compliment. She just isn’t a nurse. She’s your doctor. And the fact that you assume she’s a nurse (quite possibly simply because she’s a woman) frustrates her because it rings as a gender-based stereotype: women are nurses and men are doctors.

    I don’t think this article is so much a diatribe against nurses; I think it’s a feminist article, pointing out that the concept that women are nurses and men are doctors is antiquated. We have female doctors, and we have male nurses. I can understand nurses being hurt by this, but I think it’s important to recognize the steps this author took to write a respectful article, which is more than I can say for some others out there.

    • Guest

      If she truly believed that being mistaken for a nurse was a compliment, she would not have composed a long, whiny, public diatribe about how much she hates being mistaken for a nurse. She actually repeated five times that she hates being called nurse — did you miss that?

      So she’s being snide, and sarcastic, and passive-aggressive by throwing that “Thanks for the compliment…” line when she actually means the very opposite.

      What is this “Mean Girls II”? She sounds like she’s in junior high.

      • Guest

        No, she sounds like a new female physician who is facing a new issue and is frustrated by it. Guys don’t understand it and find it whiny.

        The seasoned female physicians here are used to being referred to as nurse, tech, housekeeper (yes, that happened to me), or absolutely anything aside from physician. In some areas of the country (and some areas of the hospital) female physicians are not that common. In fact, when I was hired 7 years ago I was the only female physician in my all male department. SEVEN YEARS AGO – that’s not long ago!

        I used to get annoyed being referred to as nurse. It was as though people couldn’t imagine a young woman being a physician, and I found that so insulting. Now I don’t care. I’m confident in my abilities and secure in my position.

        But when you’re first starting out and people think you are anything but the physician you worked so hard your entire life to become, it’s annoying.

        • azmd

          Exactly. I also concur with the feelings of irritation that other female physicians have about being asked their first names. You rarely hear male doctors being asked that question, and to me what it says is that the patient is really not comfortable calling me “Doctor,” because I am female. I am not sure why that should be, since I am perfectly comfortable being respectful and calling them “Mr.” or “Mrs.”

        • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

          I don’t believe this is a new issue.

      • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

        don’t forget that classy eye-roll she mentioned. That’s totally physicians who want to be seen as professionals do in a situation that frustrates them.

        • Guest

          Again, re-read the article and see who rolled their eyes. It was NOT the author.

          • Guest

            Her attending did, and it obviously impressed her enough to include it in her Five Minute Hate against patients who aren’t suitable fem-enlightened and deferential. Who DOES that? Besides twelve year olds, I mean?

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t miss it. Yes, she says she hates being called a nurse, but she explained why.

        I think the article can be read in two ways. One paints the author as a young female doctor who is frustrated by what she perceives as gender stereotypes. Another paints the author as someone who thinks little of nurses and is offended anyone would call her that. I read it as the former, not the latter. Clearly a number of other people prefer the latter.

    • ShabbyTime

      >We have female doctors, and we have male nurses.

      And we have nurses with doctorates.

  • EmilyAnon

    From a patient’s POV, you can’t tell who’s who in the hospital. A caregiver in labcoat comes in the room with a stethoscope around his neck – a doctor? no. Maybe a nurse, RN, LVN, tech…who knows. Even housekeeping look like clinicians, the person who brought in my food tray was wearing scrubs. One nurse had an extra tag on her ID that had RN in big red letters that caught your eye right away. That was so helpful. If other hospital workers followed this simple ID system there would be less confusion. Not everybody has good eyesight to make out the small type on a moving target ID tag swinging from someone’s neck, or the knowledge to interpret what all those letters after a person’s name mean.

    • Jason Simpson

      There was a time when only doctors wore white coats.

      Now, everybody wants to play doctor so they dress up like doctors. Hell even the janitors at some hospitals wear white coats!

      It is an envy thing and nothing more. If doctors suddenly switched from white coats to blue coats, guess what would happen? All the nurses, techs, janitors and other charlatans would also switch over to blue coats.

      I joke around with the docs all the time that they should start wearing wizard hats to work everyday and see how long it takes for everybody else to copy them. LOL

      • Guest

        At our hospital the “white coat brigade” is comprised of the nursing supervisors and administrators that serve no purpose and have no clinical ability at all. They are there to “educate” and “administrate.”

        Now, no one with any self respect would be caught in a white coat. It’s a bit of a joke, actually.

        I should start wearing a doctor’s/wizard’s cap!

      • Sujit Shrestha

        Cool down Jason,
        we are all humans, Janitor or doctor.
        If he can buy a white coat you have no right to stop him.
        Respect, have dignity.

      • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

        White coats aren’t about playing doctor. In many organizations if you want to wear a jacket a lab coat is your only choice.

        Whoever you are and wherever you practice I surely hope you aren’t as arrogant to your patients.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    Women outnumbering men in medicine. My clinic has 10 MDs and 2 NPs–6 women docs, 4 men docs, 2 women NPs. If you count the nurses, MAs, every one of which is female, the ratio is probably 8 to 1. It’s kind of weird to attend the meetings. Not bad, just weird and sometimes quite comical. The issues discussed are often female-centric and the women docs and the other women seem to have a much much greater handle on and interest in the details of interpersonal interactions. I wouldn’t have them any other other way, especially since I know there is no cure for normal.

    One of our NPs, who did urgent care, just retired. The head nurse in our urgent care section wants us to hire a male provider (doc or NP or PA) to mellow out the interpersonal dynamics there a bit. We have absolutely no chance of finding one.

  • Theresa Santoro

    I am sure you are paid equally in residency/internship. I would be surprised if you are doing the exact same rotation, that you are not. I can understand as a staff physician, fully employed, it would simply mean the male negotiated differently than you. There are female doctors out earning male counterparts, and this is an old battle, and argument. Equal pay comes down to negotiation, period. No secret pay chart. It is difficult for a patient to discern doctor from nurse, and it happens in reverse where a male nurse is assumed to be doctor. So, I would recommend as you walk into the room, say…Hello patient X, I am Doctor Z… No confusion there. and no assumptions.

    • Sloanchix

      I do that all the time, and they still refer to me as a nurse!

      • Guest

        Something I do get annoyed by is as a female physician patients ask me my name. I say I am Dr. X. They say “no, your first name.” Nurses, staff, and patients feel it’s ok to call me by my first name, yet I never hear them do this to my male counterparts. On the one hand, it’s wonderful to feel accessible in a way that apparently my male counterparts are not. On the other, I feel a bit as my professional authority is not taken as seriously because I am a woman.

        I am prepared for massive flaming so bring it on!

        • Cyndee Malowitz

          Maybe you should take it as a compliment.

        • Kari Ulrich

          I will sometimes call my physician by her first name without even thinking about it. It is not because I don’t take her seriously, quite the opposite. I have so much respect and admiration for her. We connect as human to human not as “professional authority” to patient. I respect her opinion and highly regard her because of her education and intelligence. We work as a team, she guides me in my healthcare while listening and letting me have input to my care. It is not an authoritative relationship. I think that when patients call you by your first name male or female it’s because they feel connected to you as a human, as a team player as someone who is important in their lives. I respect my physicians role as the educator, guide, and healer. With that comes an intimacy or connection that goes beyond the traditional physician role. I agree with Cyndee Malowitz it should be taken as a compliment.

          • azmd

            You may intend it as a compliment, but the person on the other side of the interaction may perceive it as disrespectful, unless you have checked in with her about it. Her feelings are as valid as yours.

          • Kari Ulrich

            Agree, the person on the other side may not preceive it as a compliment and it could be construed as disrespectful. My physicians feelings are valid. I will ask her next time if I have offended her and apologize if I have. Each doctor patient relationship is unique. We all come from different perspectives depending on our experience. I appreciate you pointing this out to me. My perspective comes from a doctor/patient relationship of over 10 years. My physician has been my advocate and my strength for over a decade. I have a rare disease that has no cure and it is because of her wisdom I am still here today. Many physicians do not have the opportunity to really understand the complexities of one person let alone a a whole practice of patients. I embrace the ability to learn and understand other perspectives in correspondence such as this. (Thanks Kevin MD) I appreciate your insight and comment AZMD. It is good to step back and put yourself in another’s shoes. It makes us better patients, doctors and nurses.

      • Noni

        It used to bother me when people asked “are you sure you’re old enough to be a doctor?” How dare they!

        No one has now asked me that in at least 5 years. I miss it!

        • Suzi Q 38

          I think that the medical students that accompany my MS specialist and his fellow look really young.
          I secretly call them “The doctor “babies.””
          Alas, I realize that they are not getting younger..I am the one getting older.
          I had 3 med students, plus the MS fellow, and the MS neurologist in my tiny small exam room at the teaching hospital. I said hello, but tried to act as if they weren’t there when explaining all of my ailments, LOL.

      • Kari Ulrich

        Or they are so involved with being a patient and trying to understand what is happening to them they don’t realize what name they are using they just need attention from a medical profession so they look for the first one they see. It’s a confusing scary place for us patients!

        • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

          When someone is sick enough to be in the hospital they probably are too sick to focus on details like this. When I had my pituitary surgery I probably had 20 residents and physicians visit me throughout my stay. Could probably only tell you who one of them was at this point. IT wasn’t that I didn’t attempt to pay attention. I was just too sick to hold my head up, much less make a point to discern who was who.

          • Kari Ulrich

            Everyone is different, I also had a major surgery and I wanted to know who the student was, resident , etc. If your at a teaching hospital this is important to know. My experience was different, I did care who I was taking to and the knowledge they had in treating someone with a rare vascular disease.

  • Skye Millhiser

    My husband is a RN. He is greeted with “hello Dr.” all the time. Once the patient knows that he is, in fact, a nurse, then it is assumed that he is homosexual. Every time this happens there is a long conversation about his nursing degree, and his wife and 3 children.

    • Noni

      I work with some awesome male nurses who said the movie Meet the Parents was a huge setback for males in the profession. That movie actually makes a mockery of male nurses, something I find so offensive. Obviously gender bias goes both ways, even now in the 20teens.

      • Cyndee Malowitz

        Physicians are getting a lot of flack too. The general public views them as being egotistical, greedy and unethical. I’m proud to call myself a nurse practitioner. My profession is consistently ranked as the #1 most trusted of all the professions. There’s a reason for that.

        • Jason Simpson

          I’ve met lots of NPs and have never been impressed by a single one of them.

          I’ve met some unimpressive doctors too, but I’ve also met many brilliant ones. I’ve NEVER met a “brilliant” NP

          • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

            How many NPs have you met compared to Doctors. How do you measure brilliance?

          • Jason Simpson

            I’ve met 3-400 combined MDs, PAs, NPs (about equal portions as well)

            My experience: MDs > PAs > NPs

            NPs are lazy 9-5 employees who clock out and go home at the end of their shift. They dont contribute anything to medical research or advance the profession. Their idea of “scholarship” is to write a study about the stresses/pressures of home care givers or some other soft social research BS that provides no real value.

            Like I said above, there are certainly many lousy MDs out there too, but at least I’ve found a good number who are smart, hard-working, and actually contribute meaningful information and research to healthcare.

            NPs are grocery store clerks sent by their bosses to collect the bill.

            I’ve also had many more misdiagnoses by NPs than MDs. One NP told me that my son should take liquid albuterol instead of inhaled albuterol for his asthma! LOL I’ve seen a few misdiagnoses by doctors too, but the NP mistakes greatly outnumber them.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Jason Simpson – Really? I guess you don’t know many NPs. I’m a NP and I own a very busy minor emergency clinic. We’re open 7 days a week, including evenings and it’s not uncommon for me to work upwards of 80 hours a week. Just Monday, I worked 12 hrs while passing a kidney stone. Celebrex and Flomax and a lot of water got me through the day.

            Why don’t you come and walk a day in my shoes you arrogant POS.

          • Eric

            Cyndee,

            You are the only arrogant POS. You are only working that shift because you own the business and are probably earning a pretty penny from it. Enjoy it while it lasts because society will eventually learn that a freakin nurse is the one treating them, and they will insist on an actual medical doctor. POS like you think you can cheat the medical system and patients by finding a “short cut” to treating medicine just out of your petty insecurities and desire to get a quick buck.

            I am a nurse and will ALWAYS insist on seeing a real doctor. Screw you for bringing down the good name of nursing.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Oh, let me get this straight…I’m bringing down the “good name of nursing,” because I own a clinic that treats medically underserved populations? Come again?

            BTW – the public already knows that a “freakin nurse” is the one treating them – I’m actually pretty well known and very respected in the medical community (Dr. Potter and the attorney defending him before the medical board would disagree, since you brought that up). I was just named a Health Care Hero in our community…doesn’t get any better than that!

            One last thing EE3890 – are you sure you’re not Jason Simpson? I noticed you just registered with this site and the only comments you’ve ever left were the ones directed at me.

          • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

            Well said!

          • Eric

            I guess Cyndee is so defensive because she has been in trouble herself with the medical community…

            “Ann Hennis, released a statement reading in part: “False testimony has been given by Cynthia Malowitz to the TMB against Dr. Potter. She misrepresented confidential patient information without the patient’s permission or knowledge.”

            You should learn to respect patient privacy! I bet you introduce yourself to your patients as Dr. also. tisk tisk….

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            So, you’re taking information from an article about a physician who is more than likely going to lose his license and try to turn it around and say that I’M in trouble in the medical community? He’s in trouble with the MEDICAL BOARD – I’m not! I think anyone with half a brain can google that information and find out everything you just said is a LIE.

          • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

            Wow Jason. You actually managed to piss me off more than the original article. Your insinuation that NPs are shift-workers in insulting and just wrong. NPs have as much liability as a physician, take care of the total patient, and get paid 1/3 the salary. Your devaluation of NPs is an excellent example of why there is so much friction among healthcare workers.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Well said Nerdy Nurse!

          • J.M.

            “I’ve NEVER met a “brilliant” NP”

            Maybe that’s because they’re smart enough to steer clear of bilious nurse-hating wackadoodles, Jason. Hey, it’s just a thought.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Jason Simpson – You MUST get over your hatred for nurses! I just read other comments you’ve made on this site and the majority of your comments are extremely angry and almost all of them have to do with nurse practitioners. Here’s one of your comments (cut and pasted) that I would like to share with everyone:
            “Doctors have a lot more training than nurses. A nures is good for wiping my ass, and nothing more”
            I invite everyone to click on Jason Simpson’s name and read all the wonderful things he has to say about nurses/NPs. I suspect Jason Simpson isn’t his real name…if it is, then he had better be his own boss or generating a hell of a lot of money for a hospital.

          • dontdoitagain

            Why MUST Jason get over his hatred for nurses? I notice you are “following” him. Why is that? Why are you all over here acting like a total witch? Do you think that all of us non-medical people appreciate your arrogant attitude? It’s very off-putting. Unfortunately for you and all the rest of you advanced practice nurses your own behavior is what we patients don’t like. We don’t get this kind of arrogance from doctors.

          • dontdoitagain

            So far in my own experience the only medical people who are IMPOSSIBLE to get along with are advanced practice nurses. I’ve never met a “brilliant” one either, although they all think they are! I REFUSE to allow one of these arrogant mid-level providers to take care of me or mine. A few bad experiences with them has shown me that they are too full of themselves to have a thought about the patient.
            If *I* were a doctor I wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a nurse either. I wouldn’t want my superior education downplayed like that. Yes nurses are important, at least the “regular” nurses. I have nothing but respect for them. But they are not a doctor. Neither is a crna or np.

        • azmd

          I would venture to guess that the reason is naivete on the part of the public. In my community, the most egregious instances of polypharmacy-related morbidity and mortality are associated with NP prescribers.

          • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

            So someone is naive because they trust nurses? I think this is a little bit of the arrogance she is referencing here.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            azmd -

            In my community, the most egregious instances of polypharmacy-related morbidity and mortality are associated with MD prescribers.

          • meyati

            Sometimes it’s their system that causes them to fail. That’s how I ended up in the hospital last month. My dog bit me @ midnight. Went to the ER for my HMO. There wasn’t a Dr. there, or one didn’t want to show up-whatever. I think that someone may have snapped a phone pic to send downtown. I don’t know, but these people were hung out to dry, setup to fail. I know that a head old nurse was in charge, and she was arguing the financial cost of whatever they did and telling the PA that she ran the place. I was completely cared for by different levels of nurses and PAs. At the hospital, 2 days later, I gave them my paperwork. It was signed by a PA. They asked for more detail from the ER. I told them that the ER just doesn’t send anything like that out. It’s an administration problem within the ER. After this, I’ll drive a long way and go to the ER downtown.

  • Kari Ulrich

    As a patient I would like to know who I am speaking to and what their qualifications are. It is my right. I have had doctors come in to my hospital room and not introduce themselves. I have asked who they were as they are leaving my room. I had no idea if I was talking to a student, resident, fellow, nurse or a family member from next door…if they specialized Internal medicine, GI medicine or vascular medicine. Please be gracious and introduce yourself along with your title. No one should be offended on a patient assumption if the patient is making a guess, especially a patient from a older generation. Patients want to know who you are just as much as you want to receive credit for your training, gender bias is difficult. Hate is a strong word, I personally don’t allow my children to use it in my presence. I take no offense to your article as a registered nurse, but as a patient there are parts I dislike no offense Ms. Or Mr. Doctor.

    • Guest

      Exactly.

    • azmd

      A careful reading of the article would reveal that the patient in question referred to the doctor and her attending as “nurses” before they had a chance to introduce themselves, since he said it in the process of ending a phone call as they entered the room.

      Introducing yourself to patients can be a little tricky. Of course it absolutely should be done the first time you meet them. After that, it’s a little harder to tell. Some patients will not remember you at all from the day before and will be confused unless you re-introduce yourself. Other patients will be better with names and faces and will be highly offended that you are reminding them of who you are.

      • Kari Ulrich

        My take on the article is that this one not incident she was referring to. There is nothing tricky about introducing yourself, especially in the hospital setting. Also there is nothing tricky about correcting a patient in a humble manner, eye rolling is not needed. Patients have so much more on their mind, I highly doubt patients are offended by a physician that reintroduces themselves at the beginning of patient doctor relationship. When 7 people surround my bed and begin speaking like I am not present, now that offends me…introducing who everyone is on the team, even if I had been introduced before…that I welcome and encourage.

        • azmd

          I suppose everyone is different. If I were the patient, and I knew the attending only had 5 minutes to spend rounding at my bedside, the last thing I would want would be for a minute of that time (or, 20% of the attending’s time that day with me) to be spent re-introducing all the medical students and residents I had met the day before.

          And actually, I have indeed had the experience of patients being offended by my re-introducing myself to them the following day.

          At my hospital, some very productive steps are being taken to address patient confusion about the various staff they interact with. Everyone’s name badge has a big “DOCTOR” or “NURSE” flap attached, and the techs, nurses, HUCs and patients all wear color-coded scrubs. I think it’s a good thing, and certainly introducing yourself to patients is, too. But that’s not really what this writer was writing about at all.

          • Kari Ulrich

            I am just curious…how often have you been on the other side of the bed? I realize the author was speaking about gender bias, but it was presented in a way to speak about other topics. I appreciate her writing about gender bias because this topic needs more attention, and she got the attention with many of her statements.

          • azmd

            I assume that you’re asking about how often I have been on the patient side of the bed…the answer is, quite a bit. I have a child with a history of neurodevelopmental issues and have seen more than my share of clinicians over the last 15 years or so. I consider that it’s been an asset to me as a patient’s mother that I am more aware than most patients of how pressed for time physicians are, and what types of activities are a good use of our time together. If any attending entered the exam room and spent any significant amount of time ceremoniously introducing all the trainees I had met the day before, I would think he or she was stalling for time, and wasting mine.

          • EmilyAnon

            I don’t think patients expect the doctor to be the master of ceremony when they are in the patient’s room. You’re the important person, so just introduce or re-introduce yourself. Maybe the last time the patient saw you they were drugged up or didn’t have their glasses on. And with your white lab coat uniforms, you all look alike. The nurse and others can introduce themselves at another time when they are alone with the patient. As for medical students, they have never been introduced to me, or even acknowledged, instead the attending treated them like invisible people.

          • azmd

            I was responding to Kari, who is “welcoming and encouraging” us all to “introduce everyone on the team…even if I have been introduced before.”

            It is, in fact, becoming de rigueur to ceremoniously introduce every person on the team, in order to fully respect the patient’s right to know who, exactly is involved in their care. My issue is that, unlike other patients, I am aware that such ceremonious introductions do not mean that additional time is spent on my care. It just means that time which would have been used to productively think about or discuss my care has now been diverted into (to me) meaningless activities designed to heighten my “patient satisfaction” scores.

          • Kari Ulrich

            patient satisfaction scores! another topic for another night, lets just say they frustrate me too!

          • Suzi Q 38

            I like to know who is in my hospital room, treating me. I also like to know why.
            If the procedure or treatment is not going to do much good, why are you here?
            I sometimes say “thanks, but no thanks.”

          • Kari Ulrich

            Thank you for answering such a personal question. I agree that it is an asset, you are able to look at both sides respectively. I also have empathy and understanding for your situation. We are fortunate that we can navigate the healthcare system because of our healthcare background. We are more intuned to “who’s who” Many patients do not have that luxury. Patients do not need a ceremonious introduction, but they do need to know who is speaking with them and their qualifications. You advocate for your child as a mother, not as a physician and it makes you a better physician. Personally, as a patient I can make better decisions about my care if I understand the perspective of the physician. Many patients do understand that physicians have very limited time, that is one of the biggest reasons why understanding who you are and your perspective is so important. It takes seconds to introduce yourself and a team of physicians, which in the end will prevent many misunderstandings and miscommunications. I have enjoyed speaking with you tonight. Many physicians are not open to communicating via social media, I appreciate your candidness. Wishing you a good night AZMD. Kari, patient, nurse and doctors wife.

          • EmilyAnon

            Kari, that was a nice acknowledgement to Azmd. I also appreciate her openness with laypeople here answering their questions. And taking the time to do so.

          • azmd

            Thanks to you both, Kari and EmilyAnon, for sharing your thoughts and perspectives with me and with others. The more of this we can all do, I think the better it will be for our collective health, as patients and doctors both.

          • meyati

            Yes it was, she was upset that a patient assumed that she was a nurse. I assumed the floor administrator was an orderly, and he helped me go to the bathroom-collect a urine sample-he set things up in the toilet. I’d been holding it for about 7 hours, and really had to go. Nothing inappropriate was done. He asked if I was mobile, could handle the function, and he undid the IV and untied my other hand. Because he was in scrubs-not a doctor-male-and was very concerned about me, I thought that he mopped floors and was the muscle that picked fainted people up off of the floor, but he was the boss. He also was relieved that I had on pajama bottoms under my gown-no bare butt for me.

        • EmilyAnon

          I agree. I think patients would welcome their caregivers reintroducing themselves, especially if we’ve been drugged up, and are, you know….older.

          • meyati

            How about not having your glasses on? or waking you up about 2 AM? It’s comforting to hear somebody say, “Hi, I’m Melissa, your nurse. I’m just checking on your IV. How are you feeling?””

  • Guest

    If I could hire a female for less than a male, and they both had exactly the same skills, put in exactly the same number of hours, and took exactly the same number of breaks in their career, why would I ever hire a male? Why would anyone? If you’re getting the exact same thing either way, only you have to pay males more, you’d never hire a male if you could help it.

  • Jason Simpson

    Oh please are you kidding me? Those studies make zero correction for hours worked, types of patients seen, number of surgeries performed, etc.

    Doctors are paid based on billing codes. For example a 99213 code in Boston pays $75.32 from Medicare. There is no code that says “male” or “female” on it.

    You get paid $75.32 for each 99213 code regardless of gender. It just so happens that men see more patients than women do and work longer hours. THAT is why they get paid more.

    • The Hero Complex

      What if I told you that all physicians don’t perform a billable action and then immediately get $75.32 credited to their bank account? Weird things called salaries exist in the medical world too.

      • Jason Simpson

        Salaries are based upon BILLABLE items. The money to pay those salaries comes from insurance and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements.

        It is a well known fact that female docs dont see as many patients, they dont work the same hours, they dont put the same research time in, they dont have the same # of publications, etc as the males do. The study you cited even ADMITTED THAT AS A CONFOUNDING FACTOR in their research!

  • Ann F

    I also don’t like when people see me in my scrubs assume that I am the nurse either. Simply because they cannot think a woman is just about to open their abdomen-up. Although I love the change of expression on their face when I correct them ;)

    • William (Bill) Plaster

      Try identifying yourself, and both you and the patient will know your status.

    • ShabbyTime

      Sure does make you feel smug and superior, doesn’t it?

  • Emergiblog

    I may be the odd nurse out here, but I am not insulted by the article. While I believe Dr. Lemay has knowledge deficits where nursing education is concerned (we are versed in cyclic AMP and Starling before they will even consider letting us grace the door of nursing school), I honestly believe she respects the profession. This article has to do with gender assumptions and her frustrations – nothing more, nothing less.
    The problem with the article is that it evolves into a discussion on the differences between medicine and nursing. This makes the inital eye-rolling appear insulting, when in reality, all it signified was “not again.”
    But if you read closely, Megan Lemay GETS nursing. She KNOWS. She isn’t one, doesn’t want to be called one, but so what?

  • hosta72

    In response to all the commenters who say the fault was Dr. Lemay’s for not introducing herself: I am a female physician. I always introduce myself. And yet I cannot count how many times I have been called nurse by a patient. This would even happen with patients who I had seen for several days in a row.

    And it’s not just a patient assumption: the assumption that men are doctors and women are nurses or some other member of the medical team is also seen in other physicians. There have been several times that I’ve been in a patient’s room doing a consult and a male physician would walk in and interrupt me for they had assumed I was a dietitian or something similar. One even apologized afterwards stating he should know better — his wife is an internist and had complained to him about how patients and other health care providers would assume she was anything but a doctor simply because she was a woman.

    And even when patients realize you’re a physician, they will often assume you’re a “lower” member of the team if there are men on the team. For instance, when I was a senior resident we were rounding on a patient. I had 2 male interns and a male medical student. We were leaving a patient’s room and the patient said to me, “I hope you’re learning a lot from them,” even though they were the ones learning from me.

    • Guest

      Besides it hurting your feelings, does it really matter whether a patient you’re rounding on knows that hierarchically you’re “above” the other team members?

      • hosta72

        I do not see how wanting to be identified by the correct
        profession implies disdain for other professions. Medicine is complicated and there are many types of medical professionals besides physicians and nurses in hospitals and clinics. Patients may see physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, social workers, phlebotomists, diabetes educators, CNAs, ultrasonographers, pharmacists, etc. All of these different professions have a role in caring for patients. Since I am a physician, what is wrong with me wanting to be identified as a physician by the patients I care for? That desire does not mean I think badly of other professionals or that I
        am better than them. We all have a role in caring for patients.

        In my last paragraph I mentioned a time a patient assumed I was the most inexperienced person simply because I was a woman on a team of men. I don’t see how that isn’t obviously aggravating and frustrating and how it says a lot about how gender affects how we’re all perceived. If you do not understand that and think that’s not important and it’s just about me getting my feeling hurt, I don’t know what else to write about that.

        Finally, to answer this: “does it really matter whether a patient you’re rounding on knows that hierarchically you’re “above” the other team members?”. First, as I’ve pointed out above, I don’t think I’m “above” other team members. Second, it is important that patients know who you are. All the different medical professions offer different things to the patient. In general, the best person to ask about drug interactions is the pharmacist, the best person to ask about strengthening exercises is the physical therapist, the best person to ask about low fat diets is the dietitian, etc. If you are being seen by a team of physicians, as often happens in teaching centers, the patient should know who the attending physician is. When I round on patients, they are often confused about who is who because they are ill and they are seen by many different providers. They do not enjoy being confused and find it helpful to know who they are talking to. They want to know if you are a physician, a nurse, a dietitian, etc.

        • EmilyAnon

          “When I round on patients, they are often confused about who is who because they
          are ill and they are seen by many different providers. They do not enjoy being
          confused and find it helpful to know who they are talking to…”

          Absolutely. Just one initial introduction. I want to know who the captain of the ship is, who I pose my questions to. Why should the overwhelmed patient be kept in the dark or resort to awkward guessing games wondering who the doctor is among the crowd in the room.

        • Guest

          Besides it hurting your feelings, does it really matter whether a patient you’re rounding on knows that hierarchically you’re “above” the other team members?

          You didn’t really answer the question. I’d guess a huge number of patients wouldn’t know what the difference between a “resident” and an “intern” is anyway. How would it negatively impact their health outcome if they didn’t know who was who, pecking-order wise, in every medical gaggle who rounded them? If he or she asked a question of an intern in that gaggle and you as a resident were better placed to answer, couldn’t you just answer it? Without all the eye-rolling and snippy comebacks and all?

          Don’t make your poor hapless patients collateral damage in your gender wars.

          • azmd

            I guess by the same logic, you could say that it doesn’t really matter if doctors are patronizing to patients. Other than hurting the patients feelings, does it really matter?

            And yet, pages and pages of this blog are devoted to the topic of how important it is to treat your patients respectfully, which I agree is true.

            I would suggest that it’s important for us all to treat each other respectfully. If I dismissed a patient’s need to be respected by saying “What difference does it make, other than hurting your feelings?” I would be in big trouble, and rightfully so.

            Assuming that someone is the most junior member of the team simply because she’s a woman, and going out of your way to make a patronizing remark to her about learning from the men on the team is disrespectful. Since we all seem to be in agreement that respect is important, I am not sure why it’s hard to understand that women might, with justification, feel a sense of annoyance and frustration with being patronized.

          • Guest

            The medical staff in a hospital is there for the sole purpose of helping the patients. Everything they do must be towards those ends.

            Your goal is to provide a good outcome for the patient, not to re-educate the patient in political correctness and female-empowerment studies.

            If you treat the patient poorly, that very well may have a negative impact on their outcome. If they can’t tell the difference between the residents and the interns in the latest group rounding on them, and as such fail to be appropriately deferential to the Top Dog, that’s not going to impact negatively on their health outcome unless the resident who feels slighted takes it out on them.

            If you’re going to take every inadvertent slight from a patient so seriously as to let it make this big of an impact, if you’re this dependent on your patients’ treatment of you for your internal validation, I think you’re being too sensitive.

          • azmd

            I personally find it amusing when patients mistake me for some other type of worker. However, unlike you, apparently, I am able to understand that medical workers are not robots. They are human and have feelings. One of the feelings that is universal to humans is the wish to be treated with respect.

            Lecturing a medical worker because they have expressed a natural human emotion, and implying that they shouldn’t have that emotion, because they are a medical worker, represents to me one of the things that has gone awry with our healthcare delivery system, which is that we have encouraged our patients to have impossible expectations of us.

            No one posting here indicated that they treated their patients badly for patronizing them. However, it is perfectly permissible to have feelings about being treated in such a way, and to write about those feelings. Lecturing human beings for having feelings is stupid, like telling a cloud that it shouldn’t rain.

          • Guest

            Boys don’t “get” feelings. Those are things that are to be shoved down into your stomach and buried until you can get home and drink away in denial.

          • Ariella13

            Physicians (male & female) get abused by their patients armed with wikipedia and the threat of a lawsuit all the time, but it doesnt mean that they will retaliate…they hold a different set of ethics than the busboy that will spit on your food out of frustration at your favorite restaurant. Some might pimp (test the most obscure facts in medicine) cocky junior members of their team to exert their authority but that’s as far as it goes…it keeps us on our toes with our noses in our books but its a right of passage.

          • hosta72

            There was no eye rolling or snippy comeback, and the patient’s comment didn’t affect the care they received. There was no collateral damage for the “poor hapless patient”. Why would you make those assumptions? You do not know me and I highly doubt you were in that patient’s room with me. I don’t appreciate being accused of putting my “gender wars” (which I didn’t know I was enlisted in) ahead of my patients.

            To try again: the point of that anecdote was that gender does affect how people are viewed. And currently there are many situations where women are viewed differently than men. In the anecdote I related, it was assumed I was the most junior/most inexperienced simply because of my gender. That didn’t matter in the care of the patient in question. It does matter in daily life for me, for I want to be judged based on my character and skill. It matters for my daughter, for I don’t want her to be limited by gender assumptions. It matters for my sons, for I want them to earn respect and not have it just given to them based on nothing more than a Y chromosome.

      • Ariella13

        Hurt her feelings? eye-rolling? snippy comments? Just because she’s a woman you automatically assume that she is nothing more than a quivering pile of emotions? Nobody can deny the benefits of having a capable physician that truly empathizes with patients but being a female physician doesn’t mean you have to embody Mary Poppins or that she shouldn’t exert her authority over her subordinates. Their male counterparts are never shamed for reprimanding or ordering their residents & medical students around during rounds because that’s the role of a team LEADER.

        I don’t agree with Dr Lemay as i believe nurses are the true advocates of patients.There is no shame in being called a nurse as many a nurse has saved the career of doctors they work with by correcting a mistake or two and have helped transform countless baby doctors into respectable physicians, each side has earned their stripes.

        It’s people like you that insist on making disparaging comments toward women and continue to mask them under a veil of feign concern for the patient that exacerbate the problem in this so called “gender wars”. I’m starting my fourth year as a medical student and i have witnessed nothing but mutual respect between the different health care providers I have encountered in every hospital i have rotated in and it was because each understood the importance of their role and demanded the respect that they deserved…I mean did you ever come on to this website and wondered what Kevin did for a living? and yet, I’m pretty sure you never even questioned HIS ego.

    • Kari Ulrich

      Stated beautifully, you got the point across without hatred thank you. I understand and I would be taken back in the same situation. That is human nature, but what is important is your response. My best friend did her residency in the VA hospital…she would be patted on the backside when she left the room and was constantly called “nursie”. She would call me and giggle, it was one of her favorite places to work. She is a great physician and humanitarian who is humble in every way. It was not a insult to her, but a chance to educate with grace and dignity. Eye rolling does nothing to help stop gender bias. Stating you “hate” being called a nurse because it undoes the work of a thousand female physicians before you, simply is not true and a bit dramatic.

  • Sujit Shrestha

    The Author has just triggered the fire, though she tried well to moisten up the subject.

  • Katherine Parker Bryden

    This confusion for everyone would be alleviated if people’s job role was displayed in bold block letters underneath their identification badge. Many hospitals already do this: Doctor, RN, Nurse-Midwife, Respiratory Therapist, LPN, etc.

    • meyati

      And you expect a sick -doped up patient that doesn’t have their glasses on or contacts in to read-you still look alike-

      • Katherine Parker Bryden

        No, but it helps their family members, and if they don’t need glasses or they aren’t doped up, it helps the patient keep everybody straight. Some hospitals use color-coded scrubs to designate roles too.

    • ShabbyTime

      >Doctor

      You mean physician?

  • Anthony D

    Sounds like a doctor I wouldn’t want to be with if I was the patient. I might as well see a NP or a PA!!!!

    “Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.”
    -Coretta Scott King-

  • Liz

    As a female physician, this used to drive me crazy…but now for some reason it just doesn’t. I think everyone is conditioned by social norms about gender roles…I don’t take it personally. I’m just there to take care of the patient and I could care less if they think I’m there to refill their water jug, touch up the paint or repair their mitral valve.

    • meyati

      I think that it is because everyone dresses alike

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    125 comments and counting. The doc vs. nurse post, guaranteed to rile ‘em up. Can’t we stop this?

    • SBornfeld

      It’s like what Kinky Friedman said about male orgasm–”it’s like a drum solo–you know it’s coming, and there ain’t nuthin’ you can do about it.”

      • buzzkillerjsmith

        Good one. But you made me comment and now we’re up to 170 or something.

        • SBornfeld

          I wasn’t expecting to go for any kind of record. I understand Dr. Lemay’s annoyance. But life is full of annoyances.
          I remember when our daughter was an infant and people would ask my wife and me if we were the grandparents.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            No doubt. If you don’t want to be annoyed, don’t leave the house. Check that: I can annoy myself in my own home.

  • Mike Miller

    Most nurses are women. There are more nurses than doctors.

  • Jo Watt

    Who cares what you are called! Maybe try your given name, we are after all of the same species …… or maybe not!

  • drseno

    Charming, not. I’m a nurse, doctor. Try that for fun :D

    • Noni

      It’s like you speak in tongues.

  • PoliticallyIncorrectMD

    1.6 million new cancer cases in the US in 2013
    2.6 trillion dollars spent for providing healthcare in the US in 2010
    And we are discussing what ?!

    • Guest

      Insecure women and their hurt feelings, and how it’s their patients’ job to assuage them.

      Allow a patient who has failed to recognize the difference between a resident and an intern to go unchallenged and unchastened, and the terrorists have won.

      Or something.

      • Guest

        There are plenty of posts on kevin md – you are free to dismiss this one and move on to those!

        Men are so silly. One mention of “feelings” and guys see it as weak. Don’t have feelings! Shut up! Be strong! Be a man!

        No wonder physician suicide rates are so high.

  • Amyta

    Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder.

  • Guest

    “What difference does it make??!!”
    – H. Clinton

  • Sandra Kaufman

    oh, my goodness. I used to be annoyed when at a bedside with a male nurse and the patient assumed he was a doctor and I was a nurse. We were both nurses….but, then I grew up. Get over yourself.

  • LouisaV

    I wouldn’t worry about it. As a female patient I almost exclusively see women doctors. I feel like they listen better and are less apt to get angry/defensive by my questions. My children see a female pediatrician and dentist, as well.

    It irks me when people refer to my or my child’s doctor as “he” and I always correct them, saying “Dr. So-and-So is a woman”!

    • Guest

      And you’re not teaching your children sexism & bigotry by perpetuating such sexist stereotypes?

      • Guest

        “As a male patient I almost exclusively see male doctors. I feel like they’re more intelligent and are less apt to get emotional/defensive by my questions. My children see a male pediatrician and dentist, as well.”

        That wouldn’t be “sexist”?

        • LouisaV

          Case in point.

          • Guest

            So you’re admitting that you’re sexist, and actively discriminate against men based on antiquated, bigoted, cartoonish stereotypes of XX vs. XY? Well THAT’s grown up of you.

  • Bill98

    Dr. Lemay (and certain other
    commenters), the reason for this confusion, at least on the part of
    patients, may have much less to do with gender stereotypes, or
    outright sexism, than you think. I believe that a large portion of
    these mistakes are made due to a combination of 2 factors.

    First, everyone in the bloody hospital
    wears scrubs! I’m not sure whose idea that was, but it makes it
    nearly impossible for patients to tell everyone apart. Try wearing a
    white coat, when you can, and see how many fewer mistakes are made.

    Second, patients have very, very little
    contact with doctors while in the hospital. Almost all of the people
    with whom they interact are CNAs and nurses. And, let’s be honest,
    99% of CNAs are women, as are 90% of nurses. So, just about every
    woman wearing scrubs IS a nurse, at least to a patient. Yes, I know
    that CNAs are not nurses, but most patients don’t see the distinction
    (I’m sure this will be the topic of another essay sometime very
    soon!).

    I believe that most patients today are
    quite used to female doctors. Those few who aren’t probably are not
    your patients, anyway. The confusion seems to be more a factor of
    too few men being nurses or CNAs, than it is an unwillingness to
    accept women as doctors.

    • ShabbyTime

      To members of the profession, an RN is a real nurse. To laypeople, anyone who wears scrubs (particularly if they are female) is a nurse, no matter their qualifications.

      What’s especially confusing is the fact that all physicians are doctors, but not all doctors are physicians. Physicians like to call themselves doctors, which furthers the confusion when you consider the fact that many nurses and other professionals have doctorates as well.

  • Bill98

    From the very same article that you cite:

    “Male and female doctors may also interact differently with their superiors when talking about payment and promotions. Women in other fields have been shown to negotiate less aggressively than their male peers. In medicine, that would mean women are less inclined to ask for more money and less likely to leverage offers from competing institutions or practices.”
    I might also remind you that the NY Times is an extremely liberal newspaper. If you expect to find a balanced consideration of the facts, regarding this favorite topic of the Left, you will be disappointed.

  • meyati

    Bill is right-I couldn’t tell a ward administrator from an orderly-nurse -doctor or surgeon because they all dressed alike. This was last month. I had a dozen people trying to draw blood, get my history, looking at my arm, I was an interesting case, telling me about food service, how to use the TV, phone and call button, getting me in bed, starting an IV, tying my injured arm up in the air, a physical therapist doing an intake, someone adjusting the bed, telling me that I couldn’t pee until it was set up to catch a urine sample, confirming that i had cancer, pharmacy techs telling me that Armour thyroid isn’t an approved med and the hospital wouldn’t allow me to take any, and I was telling them that they didn’t want my body to go into thyroid shock and my PCP and I were not demented people stuck in a 1940 time warp. Oh, yes my temp is 96.0 most of the time-so some staff were thinking that their fancy temp machines weren’t working, because my temp was 98.0, so i had people trying to take my temp orally, but they didn’t know how to do that. i just said, “hi. And if I was on the phone, I said, “I’ve got to hang up. They’re checking on me again.” Maybe surgeons should wear red coats, nurses wear blue or green scrubs-doctors wear a tartan scrub, nurses aids-what ever wear brown. I just hope that the rest of you get as pleasant and nice people to care for you that I had. PS-the guy I thought was an orderly and set the toilet up so I could pee was the floor administrator. He undid my arms, helped me out of bed, and assisted me to the toilet. He did ask if I could walk, and if I could be by myself while I did my business. Yes, I could. I was telling somebody how nice he was, and I was told that he was their boss. He’s still nice.

    • ShabbyTime

      I agree with the color-coded uniforms idea.

      But I don’t think orderlies exist anymore, at least not in the US.

  • Cyndee Malowitz

    With so many professionals who have doctorate degrees nowadays, it’s probably best to introduce yourself as a “physician.”

    • ShabbyTime

      THANK YOU.

      This is a huge pet peeve of mine. What’s wrong with the word “physician”?

  • karen3

    Maybe instead of getting huffy, you could stick out your hand and say, hi, I am dr. Lemay. I am you X doctor and I am here to do Y. Then there would be little confusion.

    • drseno

      Karen! You’re brilliant.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    Genetic science is steadily advancing. I propose doctor-nurse practitioner or nurse practitioner-doctor chimeras so we’ll all be part-doc and part-NP. We could be nursetors or docturses. The hope would be that one side of the body would not attack the other, or even worse, that the individual cells would not engage in a cagefight, but of course clinical studies would need to be conducted.

    • EE Smith

      “KevinMD’s Pageview Stats Hardest Hit”

      • buzzkillerjsmith

        I think we’re all getting hit pretty hard on this one.

        • EE Smith

          Succeed in creating your chimera and what subject will be left to generate a guaranteed flurry of comment, response, and resultant multiple page-refreshes when pageviews are running low for the month? ;-)

          P.S. 193! Will we make it to 200?

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            Good point. Maybe I should really just relax and let the pain wash over me.

  • TyC

    Turn the other cheek, your hatred of your patients’ un-or-sub-conscious mistake can’t be good for your report with them or you.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    Ray Milland and Rosey Grier! If we could get Harry Dean Stanton in there somewhere it would be a trifecta.

    • SBornfeld

      Favorite line: The racist Ray Milland has had his head grafted onto Rosey Grier’s body. He awakens from the surgery, turns to see Grier’s black face next to his, and asks, “Is this some kind of a joke?”

      • buzzkillerjsmith

        Take home: Make sure you get a look at the other head before agreeing to the graft. Words to live by.

      • EE Smith

        I bet that killed their Press-Ganey scores.

  • michelle60

    “Thank you for the compliment, but I’m not your nurse. I’m your doctor.” I like it. It shows respect for nurses, doesn’t belittle the patient, and clarifies your position in one simple statement.

    • drseno

      Shows no authentic respect for nurses. What are you talking about?

      • michelle60

        Did you read the article? She addressed that nurses and doctors have different skill sets and that she cannot do what a nurse can do.

        • drseno

          Of course I read the article, in all it’s in authenticity and primary concern for herself. I don’t call that respect or even post worth.

      • michelle60

        She states that she cannot do what nurses do – “If you’ve ever seen a doctor struggle to administer a medication, boost a patient in a bed, or try to organize the minute-to-minute care of a hospitalized patient, you can probably understand why. Nursing school has provided them with a different set of skills, approaches, and goals for patients.”

        • drseno

          The point of her post is that she does not want to be mistaken for a nurse. Whatever else she says cannot hide her loathing for being ‘diminished’ to the status of a nurse. She ‘hates’ it for heaven sakes. But it’s good that you like her post. She needs some likes on this page.

  • drseno

    It’s clear you don’t love nurses, Megan. I’m surprised Kevin MD accepted this goofy rant. Some people never learn that it’s not about them. Doctors may be the kings and queens of not getting over themselves. But please, I have more education than you do with a PhD in nursing scholarship and education. However, what’s important about my work is the powerful affect it has in facilitating students and patients to their higher well being. If I think I’m higher and need people to know that — the chances of really facilitating, helping someone — null. The sooner you get over yourself, the better off everyone (including you) will be.

    • michelle60

      “If I think I’m higher and need people to know that — the chances of really facilitating, helping someone — null.” “But please, I have more education than you do with a PhD in nursing scholarship and education.” Pot calling the kettle black?

    • Remedios Moscote

      All that education and still can’t differentiate the appropriate use of effect vs affect.

      • drseno

        tell us what you know, Remedios. Affect is perfectly and appropriately used here. Or weren’t you aware of the subtle differences between the words, their meanings and their application?

        • michelle60

          Affect is generally a verb whereas effect is usually a noun. Affect is only a noun when referring to how an individual appears to be feeling.

          • drseno

            Affect also means “to influence.” This is how I used it, and properly so. I could have also said “effect” and been correct. I made a choice out of awareness, not ignorance. But, this is an exercise in missing the point, isn’t it?

          • michelle60

            I think I have addressed the actual point on several posts. However, “to influence” is also a verb and does not fit in your post.
            Would have ignored all this had you not come off so self righteously in your post.

          • drseno

            Cool. Self righteous fits the main post — and clearly does nothing but stir things up. So, we could all get off our ‘higher’ horses now. We’re so sweet.

          • Guest

            You seem insufferable, and your inability to acknowledge your grammar mistake makes you more rude than you perceive the author to be. You can still be super smart and educated AND admit you made a mistake!

            Clinicians that CANNOT admit mistakes are far scarier than those who can.

          • azmd

            Just weighing in here that other posters are right, your use of the word “affect” as a noun was incorrect.

            I know it’s a little embarrassing, especially when you were posting about how well educated you are, but it would be better for you to just admit you made a mistake, rather than to argue and throw out ad hominem attacks.

          • drseno

            I’m in no way embarrassed, azmd. I am well educated. Very well educated. Are you able to facilitate my learning without making me wrong?

          • azmd

            I am not even sure what it is that you just asked, so probably not.

          • Allison Falin

            “You got to know when to fold ‘em”, as Kenny Rogers said. Time to walk away from the ridiculousness of this entire post.

          • Remedios Moscote

            Since you are trying to make this into an academic pissing contest

            (a) an education means nothing if you don’t leave with the relevant skill set, and effective communication of written information is a huge component of any PhD. You seem to fail on this front.

            (b) being wrong a lot of the time, and having this state of ‘wrongness’ pointed out to you by other people, both teachers and peers, is an essential part of anybody’s learning journey – particularly in a RHD. It humbles you, and makes you a better researcher. This new wave approach of teaching without designating anybody as wrong and assigning equality to all opinions is folly. This is not the fashion in which human knowledge has progressed. Human knowledge has progressed by forming a hypothesis, proving that hypothesis to be wrong, and then moving on. Being wrong is an essential part of progress, and it’s how we learn

            (c) Yes, as you have constantly reminded us, you have a PhD. So do a lot of people on this site. However, it’s not just quantity of education, it’s quality. I hate to break this to you, but if we were to apply the standard hierarchical standards (and I don’t generally like doing this, but you are begging for it with your arrogance wrt your qualifications), a nursing PhD is extremely low on the rung of research higher degrees. I’d personally take a coursework Masters in real science over a nursing PhD qualification any day…

          • azmd

            Actually, since the point of your post was apparently that you are better-educated than a third year medical resident it seems entirely on point for others to remark on the poor quality of your writing skills.

          • drseno

            Thank you — my writing skills are not poor — by any measure. Who doesn’t make occasional and subtle errors when chatting away?

          • Remedios Moscote

            It wasn’t an error born of carelessness (which is, I agree, totally forgivable – we all do it), because when we pointed it out you still made an argument for it.

          • Guest

            You also wrote, in response to another commenter, “Of course I read the article, in all it’s in-authenticity and primary concern for herself.”

            I see three errors in just that one sentence.

          • drseno

            I see them too! I must be just up for it today!

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            and no one really gives a ****

        • Remedios Moscote

          I am perfectly aware, and as a number of posters have pointed out, I am also correct.

          More than the grammatical mistake itself, it does concern me that you do not seem to possess the very important quality (one that should have been honed during your PhD) of changing one’s mind in the face of new evidence. When I started my PhD (in the molecular biosciences), previously being a high achiever I was under the deluded apprehension that I knew pretty much everything. However this foolish notion was beaten out of me very early by my superiors constantly alerting me to the numerous arrogant mistakes I made, and by them showing false the assumptions that I mistakenly held to be true.

          This, as much as all of the scientific skills I have learned, is the most valuable thing I got out of my PhD. I wonder why you didn’t get the same out of yours?

          • Guest

            [sorry - misplaced, now deleted]

          • drseno

            Concern yourself away about nothing, Remedios. If you read the other responses I’ve made, you’ll have a bit of new evidence to ponder :D Your point of view doesn’t change me or diminish my contributions. I’m sure you are more impressive than I am. But really? We all have the same fate and our lives all have the same purpose — giving our experiences to enhance the awareness we were loaned. Knowing that to be true, this has been an exercise in missing the point. Our dear main post author has gifted us with a challenge to find more inner silence, equanimity. I’m a hermeneutic phenomenologist by the way. You’d be fascinated by my stellar (and very well written) dissertation; as were the highest advisers and philosophers at Marquette. Enjoy your peace. Try overlooking minor errors in chat since they matter only a little.

          • Remedios Moscote

            Ha! An intellectual descendent of Heidegger who did her RHD at a a second rate religious university. No wonder your thoughts are so disordered. It all makes sense now.

          • drseno

            Thank you for your kindness.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            drseno – taking the high road, good for you. I usually take the other road ; )

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Remedios – I think you’re an arrogant POS who obviously needs to get a life.

          • Guest

            Oh dear lord.

          • Guest

            What a waste of resources!

      • Cyndee Malowitz

        Remedios Moscote – what are you, the word police?

        • azmd

          Actually a number of us care about literacy. That’s why we commented.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Actually a number of us have a life and don’t have time to post pointless comments.

          • Guest

            The irony of you labeling others as “having no life” when you are posting just as much as them is delicious.

            Or are you too obtuse to catch that?

            You may have your own practice but you don’t seem like the sharpest tool in the drawer. Perhaps that’s why you are so defensive. You are aware of that.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            I have a NP working for me, so I’m off a lot this summer. I hope that works for you.

          • Remedios Moscote

            We don’t expect any level of literacy or knowledge from our patients – however we do expect it from our colleagues. I’m sorry that you can’t see how those two things are wildly different.

            We only ‘attacked’ her for her misuse of a word because she was waxing lyrical about how much more educated she was than everybody else. It was the height of irony, and it was begging to be pointed out.

        • Guest

          I do, and I would hope as a professional you would too.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Seriously? This is a blog. I doubt anyone is using spell/grammar check, because IT DOESN’T MATTER.

        • Remedios Moscote

          Actually, people who value effective communication care. Words = meaning. People who misuse words run the risk of their communication being misinterpreted.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            I’m sure everyone understood her comment.

    • http://somebodyhealme.com/ Diana Lee

      It wasn’t clear to me by reading this that she doesn’t “love nurses.” If anything it sounds to me from this comment that you have a resentment issue. For what it’s worth.

  • fatbandit

    Dr. Lemay,
    I can assure you the feeling is mutual. I’m a nurse, and a man. Even after properly introducing myself I get called doctor. Sometimes even Dr. Scott. This is an insult to female physicians and male nurses that some people think gender defines our role in health care. So to them I say “thank you for the complement, but I’m not your doctor I’m you nurse.

    • ShabbyTime

      You can get a doctorate in nursing.

      • fatbandit

        I kind of always felt like the DNP and DNS were for those doctor hating old academic nurses that wanted the title but weren’t willing or able to make it in or through med school. If I decide I want the title I’ll go to med school, or I’ll take off the stethoscope and get a PhD some where where they will call me doctor without mistaking me for a physician.

  • drseno

    Seriously. But needing to make someone wrong undermines a person’s being. I guess that’s where we started — with a whole slew of people feeling that their being was undermined by an arrogant third year medical resident. What’s new here?

    • Gus

      Good grief. All you had to do was acknowledge your mistake and that would have been the end of it. Something like “Whoops! You’re right!” would have worked.

      • Cyndee Malowitz

        Good grief. No one had to mention it, now did they? In fact, if drseno had been a PHYSICIAN, I bet no one would have said a word.

        • Guest

          Cyndee, several people care. It’s sweet that you are defending your fellow nurse, but she was wrong and (1) didn’t realize she was wrong and (2) was unable to admit it.

          That level of insecurity is pretty consistent with nurses for some reason. You show it too – constantly needing to prove yourself.

          No one would have known if drseno was a physician or not had she not mentioned her profession herself. She went out of her way to show how educated she is while quite ironically writing a post that has grammatical errors and sentences that are barely comprehensible.

          • Cyndee Malowitz

            Really? You think all nurses are insecure? Well, you definitely don’t know me. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. However, I will stand up and defend my profession.
            The insecure ones are the posters who are hiding their identities and attacking others. They aren’t even secure enough to “own” their comments.

          • Guest

            Oh, I didn’t realize drseno was her real name. Whoops, you just insulted her!

            And sorry, you are constantly here proving yourself and the merits of your profession. However, you fool no one.

    • Cyndee Malowitz

      drseno – Exactly! They have to make themselves feel so superior, don’t they?

      I would give anything to find out their true identities. They’re a bunch of cowards.

  • CNDrum

    You think nurses don’t learn about cyclic AMP and the Starling Curve?

    • Guest

      The ones I work with would give me a blank stare if I asked them what either of those things were. I have not seen a bright, thoughtful, educated nurse in years. Since the nursing shortage was declared nursing schools around here took in any loser and churned out an RN as fast as they could. This has resulted in morons that anyone would be embarrassed to be confused with.

    • Remedios Moscote

      I think those were poorly chosen examples, yes, as those two things are really basic biological concepts (first year, if not HS level) that most students of the health sciences (i.e not just medical students) are exposed to. I think her point was actually that doctors are trained to be a hybrid of scientist and health professional, and nurses are trained to be 100% health professional.

      • ShabbyTime

        “nurses are trained to be 100% health professional.”

        What does this even mean? Nursing isn’t scientific?

        • Remedios Moscote

          Sorry I should have been more clear. Sure, a lot of the practices of nursing are based on scientific principles – germ theory is one obvious example. However the nurses themselves are not scientists, nor are they trained as such.

  • querywoman

    Labels work 2 ways. My name is Gripeena Patient (close enuf to my real name) I hate it when doctors walk in and call me, “Gripe,” instead of “Gripey,” the nickname I prefer.
    They almost never ask what I prefer to be called. Of course, they should just call me, “Ms. Patient.” But when a new doc walks in the room and calls me, Gripe,” I have learned to like it. That tells me how rude and insensitive he or she is.
    I can count on one hand the number of doctors who have a question on their form, “What is your preferred name,” or actually called me, “Gripey,” at first.
    I have repeatedly corrected several for calling me, “Gripe,” instead of, “Gripey.” and kept calling me the wrong name! Rude!
    I usually find a way to fire docs who call me, “Gripe.” Trivial? Absolutely not. Remember the book opening, “Call me Ishmael”???

    I have often thought of deducting one dollar from my payment for each time I get called, “Gripe.”

    • querywoman

      Wow! Three people dislike! I suppose it’s the part about deducting one dollar from the payment for each time I get called an offensive name! Anytime I post something about “chargebacks” to doctors, I get dislikes!
      I’m impressed!
      Truly yours,

      Gripeena Patient

      • querywoman

        I think I’ll deduct TWO DOLLARS from my copayment for each time I get called, “Gripe,” instead of, “Gripey,” or, “Gripeena.”
        I hope other patients do the same.
        I am also changing the spelling of my last name. I now use the name, “Gripeena PayShunt.”
        Or should my last name be, “Pay$hunt???” Feedback?

        Love to all,
        Gripey

  • ShabbyTime

    You’re a PHYSICIAN with the title of doctor.

    Many nurses and other professionals have doctorates, too.

    • EmilyAnon

      At what point can someone call themselves a ‘physician’ – upon medical school graduation or is it completion of residency?

      • Cyndee Malowitz

        After medical school, since some physicians never complete a residency.

        • Remedios Moscote

          Definitely not. It’s after the intern year, imo. At the end of medical school you are mostly an amorphous blob of medical knowledge wrapped in uselessness. That year of training turns that amorphous blob into something resembling a functioning clinician. Still a noob – but a semi useful one.

          • Mark Salmon

            hahaha, I’m an internal medicine resident who just started his residency and i’m here to confirm Moscote’s words are being true! lol, hilarious and well put.

  • Sacramento

    I am a female nurse practitioner with 35 years of experience. Had I chosen a different route and trained as a physician, I wouldn’t want to be called a nurse, either. The reasons are complicated. I think Megan’s post was thoughtful and interesting.

  • Adolfo E. Teran

    Dear Doctor Lemay, It took me by surprise your article. I introduce myself to my patients with my first name only. I went to medical school but I do not think that I need the MD after my name to obtain respect from my patients or people that I meet everywhere. Your article reminded me of a pilot’s joke: when you go to a party how do you know there is a pilot in the crowd? He will tell you. He needs to tell you that he is a pilot.
    I believe that I am honored by the trust from my patients when they came to see me. Medicine is my calling in life, if somebody call me by first name or call me nurse it makes no difference to me. I am here because my effort or work all my life but also I appreciate the nurses that worked with me all over the years. they helped and taught me all the time. I can tell you that at the end of the day I know I am a Medical Doctor no matter how they call me. I can tell you that I am the janitor in my clinic also, I do not think that makes me less person.
    I am passionate about helping my patients and healing them is my journey.
    Sincerely ,
    Adolfo E. Teran, MD ( janitor @ Orange Doc Family Medicine)

    • EE Smith

      I think Kevin can go ahead and close comments for this post now.

      You, sir, have won the thread.

      • Adolfo E. Teran

        thanks for your comments.

    • Dale Howard

      Hmmm…have you ever been called NURSE? I appreciate what you are saying however, having been in the hospital 11 times in a three year period I have noticed more male nurses. But I believe that because a person is female in the medical profession it is ASSUMED that they work in some nursing capacity as their numbers dictate.

      • Adolfo E. Teran

        No, i have not been called a nurse. I do not sweat small stuff. I am confident about my role and what I do. I believe that is an offense if you take and make it one. I do not wear lab coat, name tag or tie in my clinic ( outpatient clinic).
        I can assure you that my patients know who I am and they can call me by my first name or Dr. Teran. I can go to a supermarket and they find me and come to say hi. I live in small town in central florida.
        I do not walk on water, so as long people are not rude or disrespectful it does not matter.

        • Dale Howard

          That works for you and I must say I am laid back so I’d have and practice the same concept in life. But I also appreciate what others believe whether it be religious, political or whatever as long as others are not hurt by it. So I appreciate your opinion, as well as, that of Dr. Lemay. I’ve worked in the legal arena, titles make a huge difference as perceived by those making judgments regarding law suites. Without a title your significance is diminished. If you cannot respect other’s wishes then that says a lot about you no matter what your intentions.

          • Adolfo E. Teran

            Dear Mr Howard, i am confused . I read the original post of Dr. Lemay twice.
            I did think it was about her frustration ( patient-doctor relationship) whenever shewas called a nurse. I was looking for informationon about court,lawyers or law suits. I did not find it. I must confess those topics are unknown territory for me. I believe you if you said about titles your significance diminish.

          • Dale Howard

            I was referencing the fact as an observation of what I see in the courtroom. It is my interpretation of how people are perceived. If I lived in FL I would seek you out as my physician as I believe in your concept. I am currently helping Dr. Wible to educate doctors in patient oriented medical clinics. So I commend you on your practice.

        • Judgeforyourself37

          My ophthalmologist first introduced himself by his first name. I call him by his first name and he calls me by mine. I knew that he was a doctor as the technician who first tested my eye sight, eye pressure and refracted my eyes told me that the Dr. X would be in to see me soon. He was there seconds later and thus introduced himself by his first name. I have been his patient for nearly fifteen years and will continue to be his patient.

    • querywoman

      Dr. Adolfo, I really, really like and respect you. I often say the cleaning staff has more sense than the medical professionals. Once I went in a doctor’s office (a clinic of several docs,) and said, “I’d like to speak to someone with common sense. Is the janitor in?”
      If I pulled that number in your office, you would probably step up to the front.
      I have seen proof positive that a cleaning person was the smartest worker-drone in a public clinic. I was in one, and a toddler was playing on the hard metal chairs like he was in a gym. The nurses and office staff said nothing. They never make announcements about behavior in that clinic. The cleaning lady looked at the little boy and said, “Sweetheart, you can’t stand there like that!”

      • Adolfo E. Teran

        I tell my patients all the time that besides been their doctor , I am the janitor. My wife ( Pediatric Nurse Practitioner) and I clean the office at the end of the day.

        • querywoman

          I really respect you, and all the other janitors in the world. I ‘ve nearly been tossed for my lack of cleaning skills before. If I were a doctor, I’d have to hire cleaning staff, or I would lose my license!
          I bet you don’t put on those doctor “airs.” You’d probably never make me so mad that I’d have to come in your office and demand to speak with someone with common sense, ie, the janitor!
          I meant it when I asked for the janitor!

        • Ariella13

          Your role in a teaching hospital is completely different than the one that a pcp plays. You are choosing to clean up YOUR practice, that doesnt make you a better doctor…maybe a more well rounded human being but it doesnt improve your clinical skills.

          • Adolfo E. Teran

            Dear Ariella13, I agree with your comments about the pcp vs academic medicine. I know that because I ve done that. I don’t remember writing about improving my clinical skills because of my cleaning . You pointed out that was my choice and you were right .
            If you are a physician wherever you are or work , you will be part of a team ( unless you work solo).When you work in the hospital setting sometimes you encounter patients that don’t know as a person or as doctor. They may perceive you in different role than yours.
            You may correct them and they may choose to acknowledge it or not. I think is their lost if they don’t .
            Adolfo

        • querywoman

          Adolfo, I hope you too have a maid at home! Everyone needs a rest!

        • Cyndee Malowitz

          Dr. Adolfo Teran – My husband and I clean my clinic at the end of the day too! Hey, I OWN the clinic and I want it to be as clean as possible. There’s nothing worse than a dirty medical clinic.

      • http://somebodyhealme.com/ Diana Lee

        Our levels of education aren’t the be all, end all. There are some brilliant people doing jobs we don’t tend to respect.

        • querywoman

          Of course, the home health aide who lubricates my skin really knows more about the lesions than anyone. She knows it is improving.

    • http://somebodyhealme.com/ Diana Lee

      It’s kind of blowing my mind in a good way that you made this comment because I’ve NEVER thought of it this way. I have a JD, and no one I know calls herself / himself Dr. So and So. Interesting.

    • querywoman

      It never hurts anyone to learn the “lesser” jobs. I knew an upper middle class woman with a master’s degree who became a minister in her 40s.
      She used to be at my large downtown church. Then she went to my mother’s small suburban church. One day she discovered that the utility bills had not been paid.
      The church secretary had been stealing from the church for years, even before this minister came. She got tried and sentenced.

      Later, the minister visited my mother in the hospital when I was there. I asked her if she knew what she could have done better. She agreed lots of stuff.
      We are supposed to accept that theft happens and have monitoring systems, like 2 people counting the money.
      In the hospital, I learned that this minister had never worked before!

  • Dale Howard

    I was on a medical malpractice jury in which the patient died from injuries suffered from a small plane crash. The doctor’s last name was Ducksberry. The jury immediately changed it to Quacksberry. I worked with someone whose wife was a nurse for Dr. Ducksberry. He invited me out to dinner to talk about the case after the verdict (a hard fought acquittal). He was astounded when he learned of this association. I believe that doctors and nurses do outstanding work. Nurses are a little more personable because they spend more time with the patient. But I am amazed at the amount of information doctors must utilize in their profession (drug interactions, symptoms, etc.) Hence, the title of “Doctor” is admirable and anything less albeit another profession of importance just isn’t an excusable offence and must be corrected.

  • anon3

    I think that the article is not fooling anyone. Nurses are assistants and do a job that anyone can do. You hate being called one because you are not one, and are far above a nurse and it is offensive for a few reasons, the main one being all your hard work to qualify, but the most important one being who on earth would assume that someone was a nurse, unless they were wearing what looked like a nurses uniform? Hopefully not because of gender.

    • smallfarm1

      Wow!

    • Kobukvolbane

      Every time I run into a newly graduated nurse who believes the job will be easy, that anyone can do it, I cringe. Why? Because every time, EVERY TIME, the next time I hear anything about that person, he or she has been fired, or had an orientation lengthened, because they just didn’t get it. I’m working with somebody with that attitude now. A man–he used to have a “manly” job, in construction, or as a mechanic, and I believe he thought that if nursing was a job done mostly by women, he could certainly do it. He is turning out to be wrong, unless he changes awfully fast.

    • http://somebodyhealme.com/ Diana Lee

      I guess it’s fooling me, then.

  • Luz Zenaida Jorge-Rodriguez

    I have a few comments: HAVE DOCTOR PRINTED IN BIG LETTER ON ALL YOUR UNIFORMS, SCRUBS, LAB COATS!!!. I do not want to be call doctor neither, very happy and satisfied in my nursing role, bring comfort and taking time to explain in layman language the complicated explanations some doctors provide to their patients. See you have a big ego cause your are a doctor; hope you be very successful in your career he NURSES how to connect to your patient and learn some bedside manners that will serve you a long way into your practice and in all your life affairs. We all have the privilege to choose our career paths you chose MD and I chose nursing and if we all put our egos away and learn to collaborate with each other the patients we all serve will benefit the most. At the end of the day nurses need doctors orders to care for their patients and doctors need nurses to carry them out; we need each other as we are ALL VERY IMPORTANT LINKS IN THE HEALTHCARE CHAIN.

  • Emily Riegel

    Before everyone continues to call Dr. Lemay egotistical or accuse her of hating nurses, think about why we have titles and labels in the first place. It is to let people know, in a single word, what a person’s job is, what their responsibility is, and what we should expect them to be able to do for us. In healthcare, patients need to know our titles so they understand our roles. Everyone on a healthcare team has a vitally important role.

    I used to shirk at introducing myself as “Dr. ___” because it felt like I was trying to set myself above the rest of the team in terms of status or importance. I learned that people NEED to know they have a doctor and who that doctor is because, believe it or not, patients do still want a doctor helping care for them.

    Patients in the hospital expect their care to be determined by physicians (aka, doctors, specifically of the medical variety). They expect that nurses will provide that bedside care that is part of the care plan as determined by the care team, which includes physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals, but that is ultimately decided upon by the physician.

    The problem with patients consistently not recognizing that the female physicians are, in fact, physicians, is that they are laying in their beds, or sitting in their chairs, or talking to their families for days on end waiting for a doctor to show up. Or at least, for the individual who fits the stereotypical image of “The Doctor.”

    You want to think it doesn’t happen? Just as Dr. Lemay pointed out with the incident of the patient asking to return a call because “the nurses need to talk to me about something,” many of us female physicians have experienced just that or very similar scenarios. I have had patients, whom I have seen daily if not two or three times daily, on rounds, for several days in a row, each time careful to introduce myself as Doctor, and to specify the role I play in their care, ask me “Am I ever going to see a doctor in this hospital? I’ve been here for three days and I still haven’t seen one.”
    Or perhaps, after I have spoken with them about the details of their plan of care, worked on getting their input on how we can work together to get them better, look me in the eye and tell me, “Well, I guess we’ll just have to see what the doctor thinks.”

    I’ve had a family refuse to believe what I am telling them about their loved one because “that doctor who was here this morning said ____,” only to find out that the “doctor” in whom they have out all their faith is a medical student, who probably was born sometime while I was in high school. But HE is a male, and therefore, immediately revered. His information was totally wrong, but they believed HIM.

    Frankly, I don’t care if the patient has mistaken me for a nurse, an aide, a social worker, a physical therapist or the janitor. It doesn’t matter to me who they think I am as much as it matters who they DON’T think I am. And when patients don’t think they have a doctor, or don’t have full confidence in the person who is their doctor, just because of gender, it creates problems.

    • Nick Olivier

      That’s a good point. I’m an electronics engineer and we do the same thing, immediately introducing ourselves as engineers and technicians to the customer, so that they know who has what skills & responsibilities.

      Also, are you any relation to Ben Riegel in Chandler, AZ?

  • niall baggot

    Dr Lemay complains but doesn’t problem solve in the above post. If you sit on GMAT and MCAT class at Kaplan test prep you’ll notice doctors complain alot but business people comments are quite or pesent their complaint as a solution.
    As for your

    • http://somebodyhealme.com/ Diana Lee

      Of course you’re right that we all deal with stereotypes. Unfortunately, depending on your place in society, those stereotypes can have a vastly more negative impact. If you’re a Caucasian male, you’ll deal with stereotypes just like everyone else. But you’re unlikely to ever suffer any negative ramifications from it. If you’re an African-American male, it’s a much different story. If you’re a woman of any racial or ethnic background, again, it’s much different.

  • querywoman

    When I did a stay of over a week last year in the medical jail last year with pneumonia, everyone was clearly labeled. I had a lot of nursing students, even a nursing supervisor. The supervisor introduced himself as, “Harry.”
    It’s always easy to tell the doctors from the others. The doctors always introduce themselves by their last names. That really irritates me. Even nurse practitioners I have seen tend to go their first names. I believe in equality.

    • http://somebodyhealme.com/ Diana Lee

      It would certainly increase the approachable of physicians. This is a huge issue with many of the patients I work with as an educator and advocate.

  • Adolfo E. Teran

    I found this story( here at kevin’s website) and I hope you guys like it.

    In one of the darkest days of my life, you cared for my mom

    KRISTI BRUNO | PATIENT | MARCH 15, 2013

  • http://wayfaringmd.tumblr.com/ WayfaringMD

    my feelings exactly. Excellent post.

  • disqus_AIuzB3zZJ9

    Have you compared notes with a male nurse? It’s the same story in reverse. I think it would be best for everyone if these issues were discussed.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    Please, Kevin, for the love of God, bury this thread.

  • Charlotte

    Excuse me, registered nurses also learn about cAMP and the Starling’s curve – need to know for medications that we provide, include in our analysis of assessment findings, have a dialogue with physicians and pharmacists that respect our role and knowledge,

    CP, RN

  • LesCarter

    Dr. Lemay’s post brings to mind a quite a number of things.
    First, I have on numerous occasions been addressed as
    “Mr. Carter”. I don’t feel irritated or annoyed.
    Secondly, I am appreciative of several findings in cognitive science that indicate we make decisions, form opinions, or make choices in a ‘black box’ and then form a post hoc rationale for those things. This conforms to how I perceive myself. Consequently, I am less likely to enumerate or give much credence to the reasons Dr. Lemay provides; though I am very familiar and experienced with it.
    At least 2 colleagues have labeled me a ‘hothead’, and understandably. It’s not all that I am, but I can definitely take myself too seriously. If I find anything I’ve encountered helpful, it’s a quote from JoJo Beck to the effect that without pride there is no anger. Such equanimity comes much easier to me when I am rested, not pressed for time, etc- things in short supply in residency, and often in private practice.
    Lastly I think when I get strong feelings going, I tend to get somewhat self- (-absorbed,- centered, -righteous). But of course patients are full of the unthinking biases, assumptions, habits that make us individuals, and fallible. “Thinking Fast and Slow” offers great insight into this. Unfortunately you won’t have time to read it until in practice for 5 years or so, if then. And few of these things are very helpful until I’ve calmed down enough for somewhat dispassionate reflection.
    Good luck!

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