Thursday, November 15, 2018

Guest post: Adorable

A senior doctor came home and told his physician wife about the adorable first year medical student who came to clinic that day. Quiet, in her little white coat, she listened attentively and ‘actually’ spoke up at the end of the discussion and made a valuable observation.

His doctor- wife was none too pleased. “Adorable? How could you even say that? At least don’t repeat it to anyone else.”

I already did,” he admitted sheepishly. “But it was to a woman faculty member, and I prefaced it by saying, “this might be inappropriate, but…”

It reminded her of her childhood when the mean girls would say ‘no offense, but…’ then follow with a totally offensive comment. She secretly hoped those girls googled her now. Anyway.

She pointed out how the desire to apologize meant you should keep your mouth shut. She then trotted out all the reasons why he should never do it again.

It is demeaning. Would he have referred to a male student that way? Yes, he replied. Even if they were 6’3” and ‘built’ (he is 5’9”). Yes, he replied. I doubt it, she responded sagely.

It implies naïveté. Babies are adorable, puppies are adorable. Both being tabla Rosa, unformed, certainly not learned. Which leads to:

It is disrespectful. Prior to arriving in his clinic, she had devoted at least 6 years of AP classes, SAT prep, pSATs, SATs, a pre-Med curriculum, extracurriculars, MCAT prep, MCATs, interviews. That’s not ‘adorable’, it’s impressive. Very impressive for a woman or man (another pet peeve, calling med students and residents ‘kids’, but that’s for another time).

Finally, she is not sure the student would want to be graded on a rotation by someone who thought she was adorable.


  1. I can not love and hate this post simultaneously enough! As a 5'0 female large animal vet I'm sure I look pretty adorable, but I can definitely pull/cesarean a calf out better than all my older men clients. Our clients actually made a bet when I first started how long I would last... they lost because I'm buying the clinic in January, and have been working my butt off this fall while being in my third trimester of pregnancy so they can, well, you know.

    1. Wow. So refreshing. Good luck with all.

  2. I remember having teaching sessions one semester and we were a group of about 10-14 people. The sessions were taught by the same consultant (attending). If you answered his questions right and you were female, he would say 'good girl', in the slimiest way. But I never once heard him say 'good boy'

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  4. Ha! I call med students "kids" all the time! (Cuz really, they totally are! If I could have birthed you, then you're a kid to me.) And I describe them as "adorable" as a descriptor of their endearing naivete, which I don't use as a gender specific adjective. As a 5'4" female, I've described plenty of 6' men as "adorable" much the way I would describe a Labrador puppy.

  5. people are too sensitive... coming from a woman who has had her share of overtly inappropriate comments made to her. I just laugh and move along. Very few people mean harm by what they are saying. Those that do you can spot a mile away.