Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekly Whine: I'm not cute!!!!

I recently placed a consult on a patient to another service. When I asked the consultant for her opinion on the patient, her response was, "The patient thinks you're really adorable."

Okay then....

Honestly, I can't tell you how often I get told that I'm "cute" or "adorable." It happens with alarming frequency. This is great when the person who thinks I'm cute is that hot guy in 5th period math. Not so great when the person is a patient or an attending. Which it obviously always is because there's no math class and certainly no hot guys around.

Here are a few more examples:

1) When I was an intern, there was a nurse who once addressed me as "little one." That was seriously what she called me. My resident was laughing so hard, I thought she was going to pee in her pants.

2) I witnessed the following conversation:

Nurse #1: (to patient) "Your doctor will be in very soon." (to second nurse) "Who's the doctor?"
Nurse #2: (pointing to me) "She is."
Nurse #1: "Really?"
Nurse #2: "Yes."
Nurse #1: "No..."
Nurse #2: "Yeah, she is."
Nurse #1: "Her?"
Nurse #2: "Yes."
Nurse #1: "No.... really? Her?"
Nurse #2: "Yes!"
Nurse #1: "That's so cute."

3) Also during my intern year, our sister team's attending Dr. Brown was in the room talking to her team. They were about to go into the other room to talk, but before they left, Dr. Brown patted me on the head. It was so freaking random! She wasn't even talking to me or dealing with me in any way.

Me: "Uh, why did Dr. Brown just pat me on the head??????"

My resident: "Probably because you're so cute, she couldn't resist!"

4) During residency:

Patient to my attending: "Your assistant is so cute!"

Attending: "She's actually a doctor."

Patient: "Really? She looks so young!"

Attending: "Well, she's a doctor in training."

Patient: "I can't believe someone so young could have gone through four years of college and eight years of medical training."

5) A few weeks ago:

Me: "I feel kind of bad that I keep consulting the urologist so often. I hate to bother him."

Nurse: "Oh, that's okay. He thinks you're adorable."

I don't get it. I seriously don't think I'm all that cute. I'm really not.


  1. I think it's a young woman thing. I get it too. I can't tell you the number of nurses who call me "sweetie" or "cutie" or "doll" or "darling." What the heck? Most of them don't mean it in a condescending way (there's one male nurse constantly talks down to me in a patronizing tone, but him aside).

    I really loved when I signed off an order on that guy's chart (I'm a PharmD) and he said, "How cute, you signed it doctor." I replied, "I'm a PharmD. The D stands for doctor. I'm supposed to sign it that way." (and that's the way our protocols state we sign orders). He just smirked and said, "It's cute."

    Too bad I'm too much of a sweetie to make his life difficult.

  2. I guess that having a beard makes some difference here.

    But yet, you're open to a completely different kind of comments: nobody will ever point at you explaining to students "how annoying is to put a mask on a man with beard to assist ventilation".

  3. See this is a great "weekly whine" topic. While I one hand I completely understand not appreciating being called cute all the time. You want to be taken seriously! On the other hand, you're cute!! You look young! You should be happy that medical training hasn't turned you into an old hag! Plus, I think people mean it as a term of endearment. It means they like you.

    So I totally don't feel sorry for you.


  4. I would take it as flattery. The day will come when they don't say that.

  5. There's a part of me that finds it flattering, but now that I'm an attending, especially since I'm new to the job, I desperately want respect! When you spend a bunch of time with a patient explaining their medical issues and the only thing they retained is that I'm cute... well, that's not so great.

  6. Old MD girl - I'm guessing by your picture that you don't mind people commenting on your physical appearance.
    All through medical school I was called "Doogie." I'm small, have a baby face, and when I wear a surgical cap I've often been told I look like I'm 12 years old. SO - I don't know exactly how you feel, but I understand the frustration.

  7. Us fellas used to get similar - "you look too young to be a doctor" and it did irk a bit, especially when you WERE young and starting off and seeking the credibility of others in your abilities.
    But then over time it gradually became less frequent and now no longer happens.
    It means I'm now an old fart (42) and so busy with life/work/family that I haven't noticed my youth slink out the door.
    Don't get frustrated with the comments
    RELISH them, and don't mix up compliments about your fresh looks with jibes about inexperience.
    The patient is just noting, albeit out loud, that you are younger than he/she is. I suspect he/she is the same with the policeman/woman , postman/woman etc.
    Each time you get a comment about your young looks, savour it, and think of us auld farts getting one more comment about how we are putting on weight etc.
    Lap it up. Carry it lightly, Enjoy it
    Just think of the jealousy of others (myself included)

  8. It's really cute how you don't think you are cute.

  9. The curse of the baby face! I have one, too. People come to my house and ask if my mom is home...nooo, I'm 27 with 2 kids and a husband, so my mom is not home. On the other hand, as a nontraditional premed, I fit in better with my baby face. People assume I'm a little bitty freshman most of the time and nearly pass out when I mention my husband and/or kids.

  10. That's one reason to go gray...

  11. I can understand your frustation. When I started teaching I got mistaken for a middle school student at school.

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  14. Every year at my professional conference, I get asked what school I goto, and when do I graduate. Not only from older members that do not yet know me but also students.

    It’s getting really annoying and uncomfortable now...esp when I tell a student I’ve been a professional member longer than they’ve been in college/graduate school and that I’m the director of my department at work. (let the ass-kissing networking session begin!)

    For many in my field, it’s their 2nd/3rd career/degree so the student population average age is older then the traditional norm, so some what understandable. But whenI I know the person asking me those questions I have to stop myself from saying we’ve met, and you asked that question last year!!!

    But I guess better looking young than older... so baby face it is...

  15. I can completely relate to you as well as Kyla's comment above. I have been asked by those who come to the door trying to sell stuff if my mom or dad is home and I'm 31! I once had a repairman tell me my dad called and we needed something fixed so it's ok to let him in. Um, my dad didn't call, my husband did and he's only a few years older than me thank you.
    It is frustrating, but in the end, it is kinda nice to be carded for alcohol, actually my mom gets carded every now and then! I used to teach at a career college and my students would be looking around for the instructor the first day adn usually someone would ask where they are and I would say "right here, you're talking to her!" Most were surprised. Try to relish it when you can, irritating as it may be. It is a constant battle for credibility.

  16. PA: You just reminded me of a recent time when I took my daughter to the pediatrician, and when I gave them her name at the front desk, they thought *I* was the one there to see the pediatrician. (Presumably they didn't look at her age. I'm pretty sure I don't look 3 years old.)

    I definitely don't mind getting carded for alcohol though. I always tell them that they made my day.

  17. When I was a decade younger people were often underestimating my age but I didn't mind it much. I've never told a doc I thought she was cute but now that I'm turning grey mebbe I'll start ;^D I *did* need to use University Health Services a few times in a relatively short period. I started asking for the same doc because I thought we had a good repoire. After the second time she said she could be my doctor or my friend but not both. I opted for the latter; lots of docs around here - friends come & go, but enemies tend to accumulate.

  18. Haha I've totally been patted on the head before. Like the way one would pat a puppy's head. But the staff was a vet before medicine and habitually pets his residents on the head. It would be awkward, but it's such a normal gesture for him, we get sad and worry we did something wrong when he DOESN'T pat our heads.