What Dr Gabrielle McMullin’s Comments Don’t Address

There is no doubt sexism occurs in surgery and medicine. But Dr Gabrielle McMullin’s opinions, whilst they could have been more sensitively expressed, fail to identify one of the core problems – a culture that lends itself to humiliation of junior and other staff like nurses.

Some might call medicine a bullying culture. Frank bullying does occur but often in a humiliation culture the signs are more subtle…so much so that I’m not actually even sure the terms I’m using are correct.

Medicine is full of competitive type A personalities. Point scoring off each other is rife and betweeen seniors and juniors is prevalent. I always thought that after my experience doing the Physicians’ Exam’ that it was just a process of ritual humiliation to join the club. I’m sure many felt the same way, especially as the process does little to assess your clinical skills and ability to care for your patients.

I’ve said the sexism does exist but I also know that many a male registrar has been told to ‘suck it up princess’ or equivalent by a consultant who wasn’t happy with their performance.

The problem is also made complicated by generational change. If I even enquire with a registrar what they know these days it is perceived as too much pressure. There needs to be a balance.

I’m not sure if I’ve communicated my opinions adequately but I do think that the sexism issue can’t be corrected unless other cultural issues are addressed.

For more on the culture read http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/the-bullying-culture-of-medical-school/?_r=0

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