stereotype me

11 Nov

At UVA, I was part of this awesome organization called Sustained Dialogue.  It’s a little difficult to explain in a few sentences and do the cause justice.  Basically, racially diverse small groups (8-12 students) meet once every two weeks for a few hours to discuss race, within the context of the university predominantly, at least to begin with.  It’s a five-step process that begins with story-telling and moves toward action.  Might sound trite, but I found that simply opening up the conversation in this safe space was eye-opening in unexpected ways.

One year, a bunch of SD groups got together and created De-stereotype Day.  White shirts were passed out that said “Stereotype Me” on the front, and on the back the wearer wrote a personal characteristic that defied a stereotype that might be held against him/her.  For example, one of my friends whose family is from China wrote, “I don’t know how to use chopsticks.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about stereotypes recently because it seems like, as med students, we so easily fall into them.  And I don’t just mean as the “typical med student”–type A, overly anxious and competitive, sleep-deprived, socially inept–but also within the context of what type of physician each of us will become.  Here we are, not even a full semester into medical school, and we already seem to be segregating each other: the former Peace Corps volunteer who will likely win a National Health Service Corps scholarship and go into primary care in rural America; the smooth-talking econ major who will get the joint MD-MBA and likely not work in a clinic past residency; and–my favorite–the orthopedic surgeon.  This stereotype is pretty incredible.  I’d heard about it from John and other friends who had gone to medical school; you can literally pick out these kids a mile away.  They are young, male, incredibly athletic, fratty (in the best ways…incredibly comically so), and completely tunnel-visioned in anatomy lab.

So, I’m curious.  What’s my stereotype?  I don’t think I fit any of the categories above, and I’m sure my own preferences will change 8-12 times as soon as I start clerkships.  But seriously, I’m opening up the floor to your comments: What type of doctor do you think I’ll become?

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4 Responses to “stereotype me”

  1. John November 11, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    …one that cares about her patients and cares about doing her best – everything else doesn’t matter.

  2. Jen November 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    One of my favorite parts of third year is seeing some of these stereotypes blown away as my classmates discover the fields about which they are passionate: the MD-MBA types who became smitten with outpatient pediatrics, a former derm die-hard who now so loves ortho that she doodles trochanteric anatomy in the margins of her notes on her medicine rotation, and the total macho guy who discovered a passion for OB-GYN and now tries to sell everyone on the merits of IUDs and pelvic exams. It’s incredible to see the transformation and excitement of people discovering the field they love.

  3. Dad November 15, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    Public service. Lower class women’s health.

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