“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.” ~Carlos Castaneda

Sunday, February 25, 2007

There is no crying in orthopaedics ... Do women really belong in orthopaedics?

"If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything."
~Win Borden

Orthopaedics is such a male dominated sub-specialty. You walk into the orthopaedic resident's area, and you are likely to smell the testosterone. The adolescent jokes are endless. Gas and scratching is always funny. It is almost a fraternity atmosphere. So in comes the new era; in medical schools, the percentage of men to women is about equal . Women are making a move in high powered fields across business and medicine. So I ask, do women belong in orthopaedics.

When you look at the typical applicant to orthopaedic residencies, HE fits a mold. Usually, the applicant is a white, dark haired, about 5'8" to 6'2", male with a type A personality. He usually has had some involvement in sports, "an athlete." He is driven, some may say competitive. If you look at most residencies, they have a "type." And most of their residents fit it.

So, how can women make this specialty better? What do they bring? They are not strong enough. They are prone to crying. They are emotionally fragile. What can the fairer sex bring to this testosterone driven specialty?

Well, in my experience, most woman who choose areas that are not female friendly, tend to be of a little bit different personality type. I have seen it when I was in engineering as well as in medicine. The women who choose the surgical specialties tend to be extremely driven and thick skinned. They are still women mind you but the usually are more tolerant. They have to be or they won't survive.

Admit men and women are different. Woman bring a softer more cerebral side to surgery. They bring emotion sometimes absent in male surgeons. They bring patience and understanding. They bring something different. Most of the woman surgeons that I know fit into one of three basic molds.

1. The b*t*h - This female has very male traits. She is aggressive. She is dominant. She will tell you what to do and what was wrong in a heart beat. Usually disliked by the other woman, i.e. nurses, clerks, etc. who are below her. If she was a male, we probably wouldn't even question this because he is a surgeon, it is expected. But a dominant woman is considered a B*T*H.
2. The star - This is the female that stands above all others, both male and female. When you look her, you notice she is able to tow the line. She is able to control a service and get the respect of all. She understands men and works with our flaws. She never loses he femininity or "womanness." she is able to negotiate the delicate politics between her peers and those under her.
3. The crier - This is the female that cannot understand why the men act like men. They take everything personal. She lets her emotions get the best of her. Frequently, she is questioning herself and why other treat her in a certain way. She forgets the sure fact that boys will be boys.

I could probably categorize the male residents as well. These are just generalizations for those I have seen. There are probably more or mixtures of them all. These are just a few.

So do we need women in orthopaedics. I would argue yes. Regardless of what category they may or may not fit into, we need a change. Orthopaedics needs to be upgraded like a Microsoft© program. Orthopaedics needs less testosterone and the addition of some estrogen. So are we as a specialty ready, I don't know; but, the writing is on the wall and they are coming. So, all you rock star men get ready; bring some tissue and a Hugh Grant movie, and we'll all get along just fine.

"If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone."
~John Maxwell

1 comment:

Chrysalis said...

Interesting Someonetc....I knew you'd find me on your site meter, so thought I'd drop you a "hello". As I did I found this article...mmm I'll have to catch up on some of your older writings while you are away. ;)