Category Archives: Work

Singlism

Throughout medical school, I felt that I had to work harder than my male counterparts. I was constantly trying to prove myself in a field dominated by men and that often meant sacrificing my personal life to stay ahead. It was difficult and I always felt like an outsider, constantly trying to earn the respect of the cool kids. In the end, my struggling only served to sweeten my #2 class rank and my graduating with honors. I felt that I had earned my place among the men and overcome the hurdle of sexism.

After I graduated, I once again dealt with discrimination. Though this time it wasn’t just because of my gender. My clinicals came and went without much incident, as I could tell the physicians I shadowed felt I was more an annoyance than anything else. The first time I really felt a tinge of discrimination was during my internship, when I was constantly called “girl” or “young’in.” I tried to brush the comments and nicknames off, but after earning the right to work alongside these physicians I wanted to demand respect. I didn’t, though. I just took the abuse and kept my head down.

Then came my residency. On a daily basis, I was subjected to verbal abuse at the hands of my attending, who held no respect for me. I was the lowest of the low to him, a young resident and a woman. This was by far the worst discrimination I had ever encountered. I was miserable throughout most of my residency (which, as a neurosurgical resident, was a long time) and it took its toll on me. I became more withdrawn, abrasive and I was constantly stressed out. The day my neurosurgical residency ended was one of the happiest days of my life. I assumed that the discrimination was over. I had made it so far. Medical school, clinicals, internship, residency. Now I would have the respect of my colleagues, or so I thought.

So he’s a dentist, but you get the picture.

A few weeks ago I scheduled some time off. I like to try to take a few days off each month to reorganize myself and try to focus on a few projects. The time was initially approved, consults were moved around and I was looking at plane tickets. Today, I just happened to look at my schedule for the weekend of the 25th and noticed that I was scheduled to work all the days I had requested off. I was fairly upset, but assumed it was just an error in scheduling. I went to talk to the woman in charge of setting appointments and creating our basic schedules.

The conversation that we had, blew me away…

Me: “I noticed that I was scheduled for days I originally had off. I have the documentation that shows I won’t be here.”

Scheduler: “Another surgeon with family issues asked for the same time off. So he is prioritized ahead of you.”

Me: “I don’t understand. When did he ask off? Those days were originally fine.”

Scheduler: “He asked off yesterday, but he is taking time off for family…”

Me: “Why does taking time off for family make his time more valuable than mine?”

Scheduler: “You’re single, you don’t have family to worry about and so he is prioritized above you. When you aren’t married or don’t have children, you are kind of at the bottom of the totem pole.”

At this point, I didn’t know what to say. I just turned around, walked back to my office and slammed the door. I felt like this was some sort of new discrimination. At what point did my being single become something to be discriminated against? In the U.S., family systems have seen such incredibly vast changes that I was appalled her thinking was still so backward. If I was married with children, my needs would be “prioritized” over the needs of my single colleagues. This isn’t fair, nor is it right. Only 51 percent of Americans are married and even though that means I am in the minority, it doesn’t mean that my time is any less valuable than the married couple next door. I looked up a few articles on “Singlism,” and while some of the issues are just down right silly, a few are well-presented observations about singles discrimination.

They look thrilled to be in the majority!

 

Is this sort of discriminatory behavior something most people ignore, or do the majority of people not even realize this goes on? I feel like I have worked hard for what I have. Taking time off is a way for me to enjoy what I have earned, meet new people and strengthen my relationships. How am I suppose to move to the majority, if I never have time to actually have a real relationship?

 

I’m really not sure where to go from here. I have put in a second request for the same time off and I drafted an email to possibly be sent at a later date. Even though I don’t feel like I have any ground to stand on at work, I am obviously taken aback by the level of thinking that is going on at such a progressive facility.

Questions: Have you ever been discriminated against because you are single? How did you handle it?

 

 

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Post Moving Apocalypse

While I was trying to fall asleep last night, my mind kept going back to the fact that I start work again on Monday. This wouldn’t be so terrible if I had the majority of the house set up, but doing this all by myself has been a trying experience. When I moved from NYC to KC, I took only what was necessary since I was keeping my NYC apartment. Moving from KC to LA was fairly easy, as I was moving first into a small house and it didn’t allow for much “stuff.” However, moving just a few blocks away has been a nightmare.

To start with, the holiday weekend meant that the streets were packed with drunk college kids and out-of-towners. Navigating as you got closer to the beach was pretty terrible and it stressed me out even more. Once we got to the house, the movers were quick to get everything inside, as I’m sure they also wanted to start their 4th of July celebration early too. Not all of the furniture was delivered on Friday, so I had scheduled the movers to come over three days (July 1, July 2 and July 5) so that way they would be around to help me move furniture from room to room. I also had a delivery scheduled for the 8th, but the 3 men who delivered the chairs were more than happy to move them around for me. Since the days were spread out, I had to try to set-up as much as I could over the holiday weekend. I did take some time out to see friends, but got right back to organizing boxes.

Unpacked boxes

So much time spent opening boxes

The problem I have with unpacking is that I feel the need to sort through everything as I take it out of the box. I have been going through my books, deciding which get the privilege of residing on my shelves and which ones will take a trip to the Hermosa Beach Public Library. I have yet to even tackle my clothes which are still hanging in the boxes. I have turned one of the bedrooms into a closet, thanks to custom cabinetry. This means I have to go through my clothes and will probably donate some of it*, but I have to sort through it first. This whole process is going to take forever and with work on Monday, I don’t see how I will ever get any of this done.

The only rooms that are completely done are the master bedroom, the master bathroom and the kitchen. I knew that I had to have some sort of sanctuary in the house and I figured my bedroom was the best place to start. My cat has been staying in the bedroom as well, since she appears to be terrified of the new house. I have yet to bring the dog into the house and my old neighbors are still taking care of him. They told me that they would watch him for as long as I needed. I knew that bringing Jasper into the house would be a disaster, since he loves to chew up cardboard boxes.

I know that moving in takes time, but with my schedule it is difficult to see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” or in my case the bottom of the empty moving box. I can only hope that I get as much done as possible in the next two days and that I’m not in the OR for the majority of next week.

*Any suggestions on where to donate clothing in LA?

June does not need to be abbreviated.

I have seen “Jun 1, 2011” everywhere today and even though I know it is the proper abbreviation for June, it seems so wrong. Why can’t we just write out “June”? Jun feels like some sort of illiterate lolspeak or part of a thirteen year old’s text message to her best friend, “OMG, Jun iz my fav month, yo!”

On another note, I have purchased enough furniture to outfit my new master bedroom! That means I only have 5-6 more rooms to go and since the house has that ridiculous elevator, I have to figure out some way to utilize that. Why would anyone put an elevator in a 3 story house? It makes me feel lazy just thinking about it. I have yet to find the appropriate couch for the “great room,” which I am considering calling the “incredible room.” Every single couch I have looked at seems to have some glaring flaw (mostly that I don’t like them) and I’m becoming frustrated with my search. I haven’t lived in Los Angeles long enough to know where to go for custom furniture and I don’t have the time to really meet with designers to figure out what I want. Dilemma.

Monday was also the first day of my cleanse. I have been trying to stay away from this massive plate of cookies I baked for my cousin. I wish she would just come and pick them up so that the temptation would be out of the house. After going to Von’s, Whole Food’s and Oliovera I feel ready to begin what my body will ultimately decide is me punishing it for not properly fitting into an Alberta Ferretti dress a few weeks ago. I say this even though I wore the dress anyway. The slight bit of snugness around my middle caused me to panic and I immediately searched my computer for the detox rules.

Work was incredibly hectic today and I relished the 15 minutes I had to myself in my office. After P came back with my lunch I locked out the world and tried to focus on enjoying what little break I was given. It was definitely one of those days when I wondered why I decided not to pursue my passion and instead chose to appease everyone else. These days it seems like I have begun to question not only my commitment to the hospital, but also my commitment to medicine. Why did I spend so many years pouring over texts in medical school, only to be dissatisfied with the end result?

Finally, I am considering purchasing an eReader. I have been told to buy a Kindle, a Nook and an iPad which has left me all the more confused. I have ruled out the Kindle (I think) and it seems to be down to a Nook Color, a ‘Next Gen’ Nook or an iPad. I can not see myself using all of the features of an iPad and keep leaning towards the Nook Color, but I wonder if I wouldn’t use the iPad more once I discovered how useful it really is. This all came about after I finished A Game of Thrones and did not have A Clash of Kings on hand to read afterward. I have been forced to wait by the Hermosa Beach Public Library and so I am currently reading Embassytown and The Tragedy of Arthur, though they both seem to be fairly interesting.

What is a weekend?

My week never actually seems to “end.” I suppose that it comes with the territory, but I never seem to get the same break from the work-week that everyone else gets.

Telle est la vie, je suppose…

I do have tomorrow off (Thursday), but I have to work Fri-Mon with a 10 hour break on Tuesday morning. I am already tired just thinking about it.

I should sleep. The sooner I sleep, the sooner I get to sleep in.