A recent study from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health found that when hospitalized patients receive care from a female physician, they’re more likely to survive, and they’re less likely to come back, than when their doctor is a man.
I quote this not to offend anyone but to reflect upon the fact of whether being a man or woman dictates our choice of work and the way we work.
Recently, as the newer generation of doctors move on in their journey to pick a specialty, i get a lot of messages from girls who want to pursue surgery, but someone somewhere told them it wasn’t easy for a girl to survive in a ‘man’s world’. So, they ask me what do i have to say to them.
I said this as a part of my speech when i received the award for “THE BEST SURGICAL RESIDENT IN INDIA (2015)” from ASI. I mention this not to boast but to bring out a subtle irony.
At various occasions in my brief career as a Surgeon, i have had people ( friends, colleagues, seniors, professors etc) say things and do things which made me want to quit, which broke a part of me. But my dad always said one thing to me, ” If its your dream, you and only you can protect it”.
” Surgery! But you are a girl !”
” It’s a man’s job. Its stressful, and tiring and requires strength, both physical and mental. You won’t survive 1 month”
“You are going to cry every time you have to shove your manicured hand into someone’s rectum”
“Us ladki se kuch nahi hoga. Surgery dusre resident se kara lo”
“isko retractor bhi mat pakdne do, pata chala patient ke upar hi bahosh hoke gir jaye”
“Main ja raha ladkon ke saath, ward dekhna”
“Hum sab ja rahe hain movie, pura floor dekh lena”
“I think she’s sleeping with the professor”
“I think she comes into all my surgeries to watch and assist. Maybe she’s interested in me !”
So should you pick surgery as specialty?
You should know that most of the times you’ll have patients calling you sister, and your male counterpart, doctor. Sometimes some of your patients will stare down your body as you dress their wounds; sometimes people will grab your hand or something else while you attend to them in the emergency room; sometimes when your uterus cramps and your back kills you and you bleed like a tap, you can’t tell anyone because that is a sign of ” being girly” and you’ll have to work through it. Sometimes it’s going to test your bowel and bladder capacity. Sometimes you’ll want to cry, sometimes your legs will swell, sometimes you’ll sleep while standing.
But its all worth it.
People ask me why i opted for Surgery.
The reason was simple, im a person who thinks alot ( clearly ! 😛), but being in the OR, wearing those scrubs , seeing an open body infront of me, makes my mind go quiet. Im in the moment!! The entire world disappears. Its my Happy Place 🙂
And somewhere midst your struggles youl find that one professor who’l see your worth and become your mentor; you’ll find that one junior who’l always stand around you to say, ‘ meri ma’am se dur khade raho’. 🙂
There is no gender specific profession. Boys can be great gynecologists, girls can be orthopedic surgeons. Boys can be amazing fashion designers and hair stylists and girls can be combat fighters.
What you bring to your profession and whether or not you can sustain the pressure is not dependent on your gender but your virtues as a person and the strength of your mind.