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Page 12 text:
Life has many roles for me as it does
for my fellow medical students. Together
through the past four years we have shared
a variety of events and individually we have
had an array of unique personal experi-
ences. It has been with the objective of
becoming physicians that we have been on
common ground. And when we receive our
degrees, ten percent of us will stand distinct
as women physicians.
The success with which we perform our
roles as women and physicians will deter-
mine the quality of our individual lives. We
can not and should not try to disassociate
the woman from the medical student or
physician. It is our responsibility to use any
special attributes we may have to bring
additional quality to our work and to avoid
those traits which contribute nothing.
The words female medical student bring
rather hxed connotations to the minds of
many people. The first class meeting usually
serves as a superficial way of reaffirming
some of these impressions and breaking
down others in the eyes of both the men and
women. Then through the years the stereo-
typed picture fades away and individual
merit becomes the yardstick. I have felt that
during the past four years my male col-
leagues have treated me on an individual
merit basis, and I am particularly grateful
to them for doing so.
This is not to say that some of the criti-
cisms voiced about female medical students
are not shared by these colleagues. The most
frequent and legitimate complaint they raise
is whether or not the women physicians will
be practicing physicians. On that count I
can only be judged in one way-by what I
do in the future.
Another question I have been asked con-
cerns whether female medical students
receive any special treatment or have any
advantages. The answer is yes. It does not
mean that your duties are any less, but it
may mean that your first day in the Operat-
ing Room you are initially mistaken for a
new circulating nurse. The surgeon, after
the frustrations of a difficult procedure, will
probably acknowledge your presence by
apologizing for the curses that flew hot and
heavy for awhile. There is also the occa-
sional person, both medical and nonmedi-
cal, whose subconscious does not quite
accept women as doctors, and then it is your
task to demonstrate your professional iden-
tity. There are times when the empathy you
feel for a patient may be more meaningful to
the person because you are a woman.
It is perhaps in the distribution of time
that the female medical student differs most
from her colleagues and comtemporaries.
Both the short term and long range manage-
ment of time are seemingly more involved
for her and distribution depends on ones
roles, priorities and interests. Life has many
aspects and involves being more than just a
medical student. The woman in medicine
has conflicts and complications with certain
responsibilities in her personal life. Iler
training period and early years of practice
coincide with the time she is most likely to
be marrying and raising a family. Her male
colleagues are usually doing the same but
their responsibilities in the family are much
less conflict producing and cause fewer pro-
I can honestly say I am busier than most
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Page 13 text:
IMPRESSIO S: WOME as MEDICAL STUDENTS
women my age and expect this to continue
indefinitely. Each day usually brings more
than I can realistically expect to accomplish,
but that problem I share with just about
everyone. It is not possible to see into the
future and know the wisest course to follow.
You must do considerable thinking and
planning, make your decisions and believe
you can achieve your goals. It certainly
helps to have lots of cooperation and sup-
port from those closest to you.
Why is it that the percentage of women
physicians is low in this country when
compared with many other nations? I can
make no claims for having done scientific
research into this area but I have a few
ideas. We begin at an early age to identify
people with their jobs. Traditional images
impress us with the fact that doctors are
men and nurses are women. But given new
images some young minds forget the more
traditional approach. There are six year old
twin girls in our family who basically know
only two doctorsgtheir male pediatrician
and their cousinm-me. At the moment, one
little girl has decided to be a doctor when
she grows up, and her sister believes she'l1
be a nurse and help out too.
What happens to stop the girls who con-
sider but do not actually seek a medical
career? Perhaps for some it is the hnancial
burden or a lack of true interest and deter-
mination. For others it may be an unwill-
ingness to delay marriage and family life as
required by present training schedules.
Todays young women read and hear much
about their feminine imageg the image of
women doctors in the past has been rather
straight and narrow. Prejudice against
women in medicine was once a strong fac-
tor. Many of these things have changed.
Probably the two things which will bring
more women into the Held are these: CU the
need for more physicians, and QZQ womens
changing and expanding ideas of how they
wish to fulfill their life's goals.
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