What this physician learned from Pantsuit Nation

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A few months before election day, a grassroots group was created on Facebook called Pantsuit Nation. As the name probably implies, it was a group for Clinton supporters, where we shared our positivity about Hillary Clinton as a candidate and offered endless empowering stories about why we were voting for her. The group was secret, but as its numbers swelled to over 3,000,000, it was hard to keep it a secret. Hillary even gave us a shout out at several rallies and in her concession speech.

Well, November 8 didn’t turn out as we wanted. In fact, it left me feeling pretty devastated. For me personally, the devastation I feel is not because my candidate lost. I have been through that before. My grief and despair are for my friends in same-sex marriages who may have their marriages invalidated, for my gay friends who have adopted children and are afraid that their parental rights will be terminated, for my friends of color and those in mixed race marriages who fear for their children’s safety. I fear for immigrants and the children of immigrants who are facing increasing incidents of harassment and racist vitriol. I weep for the disabled who our president-elect openly mocked.  I am dismayed to be raising my child in a country that elected a president who says you can “grab women by the pussy” without consent. And so I wallowed, and wept, and I circled the wagons.

But then I had to get back to work. Literally. As I put on my scrubs to go back to work a few days after the election, it occurred to me that I was wearing my own version of a pantsuit. Scrubs are my pantsuit. Every day that I put on scrubs and go to work in the emergency department, I am likely to care for the neediest, most disenfranchised populations around. The people I worry about under a Trump presidency are the same groups that I encounter and care for daily. As a group, we care for immigrants with no health insurance, the working poor who don’t have the luxury of going to see the doctor during daytime hours, and people who are at their most vulnerable inside the walls of our ERs. As a group, we as emergency physicians play a vital role in providing shelter to large swaths of the population.  I take some solace in that. I will continue, wearing my scrubs as my pantsuit, to care for those in need. And the more I hear about the rise in xenophobic, homophobic, and sexist acts since November 8, the more I double down on my efforts to provide shelter and assistance to those in need. While wearing my pantsuit.

I am in no way assuming that all of you reading this article share my political views. But I do make the assumption that most of us went into medicine to help people. And we, as women in emergency medicine, as we wear our scrubs to work day in and day out, we are the Pantsuit Nation.

Mari Siegel is an emergency physician who blogs at FemInEm.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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