COVID19 Work

Day 60: Work & Stuff

May 14, 2020

Yesterday was a bit better. Busy, but not terrible. I had a couple of nice interactions with other physicians and it made me think a bit about how people generally treat each other in the hospital.

I feel thankful to work for a health system where I think there is an underlying culture and expectation of respect and kindness, especially between clinicians. People generally like each other and put patient care first. But there are still subtle ways in which sometimes I feel . . . less respected. I am not sure if it is because:

  • I am in a ‘less prestigious’ specialty (ie, not surgical or even procedure-based, not critical care, not highly compensated, pediatric — which is sadly lower on some sort of artificial hierarchy for some people)
  • I am female (duh).
  • I have been there for less than a decade

Examples of experiences that lead to these feelings:

  • Getting a stare like “WHO ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU IN OUR SPACE” when I walk into certain clinical areas to do consults that I was asked to do
  • Getting haphazardly texted consults. At least leave me a callback number please to ask you questions! This is common consult courtesy. (To be fair, this drives Josh crazy as well.)
  • Getting casually asked to do things that are not my job (example: get this patient that we are both consulting on an appointment with some other specialty). This doesn’t happen a lot but I am definitely sensitive to it when it does.

All that said, the above things do not always occur. In fact, I had some very *positive* experiences yesterday which is what led me to think about things. I had someone from a surgical specialty call me for a consult in a nice way and it was so refreshing! I also had a very lovely interaction with one of our neo attendings who seemed to value my clinical opinions.

Anyway. It was nice. It benefits the work culture AND the patients – truly a win/win. (PS: I am sure there are issues like this in every industry and corporate environment!)

Delicious & Beautiful Things:

the color of these little flowers is just GORGEOUS.
Blueberry scones that Josh & the kids made!!! They turned out perfectly.
Recipe here.


  • Reply KGC May 14, 2020 at 8:20 am

    I am also lucky to work at an institution where I generally feel respected and valued (by my boss and colleagues; administration is a different story), but have similar experiences to yours occasionally. I am not a physician (genetic counselor) but I am an internationally-recognized expert in one specific gene. I once had a physician at my institution email me for a recommendation on genetic testing in an perplexing kiddo, so I wrote out my thoughts and suggestions. He immediately fired back with “well, we aren’t doing that.” Which is…fine (your patient, your decision)…but why even bother to consult me if his mind was made up on course of action? I have often wondered if the answer or even just tone of response would have been different if I were: a) a physician; b) not female; or c) older than I was (around 30 at the time).

    Luckily, these types of exchanges seem to be the exception rather than the rule, but I find myself at a loss of how to address them. Maybe the answer is say nothing. Do you try to push back or speak up when the things you described above happen? Would love some thoughts from you and others on this topic!

    • Reply neuromd May 14, 2020 at 7:10 pm

      I don’t say anything. People like that go onto my a**hole list in my mind and I generally try to avoid them. Once, there was a resident physician who acted like that and I happened to be friends with the division head at another institution where he was applying for a job. Well, he didn’t get that job.

  • Reply Emily May 14, 2020 at 8:31 am

    The color of the flowers is beautiful and the scones look great! Glad work was a little better too.

  • Reply Greta May 14, 2020 at 9:15 am

    The scones look great! I miss my Starbucks treat as well. Maybe will make them this weekend.

  • Reply Cate May 14, 2020 at 10:03 am

    As a parent who relies on doctors working together to figure out what is wrong with my kid, reading this is sooo frustrating (also as a feminist too of course). The people who really suffer from these displays of doctorly machismo are the patients, and the parents of peds patients. Those same doctors that are condescending to you are even more awful to parents – god forbid we ask questions, want to be part of the diagnosis, whatever. We don’t have the MD degree and why are we not treating them like a god? In my experience (five hospital systems) this is *very* institutional – either it’s part of the system/culture or it’s not. I’ve been very lucky to recognize it and remove myself (and my kid) from those systems and just go elsewhere. We live in a town with a world-renowned hospital and I won’t go. I’d rather travel to other cities and endure the expense and hassle. It’s the most 1% thing I do!
    Morning rant on someone else’s blog over now.

    • Reply Danielle May 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

      Yes. A couple years ago my sister was in a large urban hospital for a number of weeks because of a bad car accident. The absolute biggest problem I saw was the screwy communication between different departments/specialties and between the people higher in the hierarchy vs lower (going both ways).

      These were lovely professionals who seemed highly intelligent, passionate, and often compassionate and yet I was shocked to peak into their world for a month and see how they treated each other.

      This sister is also a registered nurse and the stories she tells me about coworkers, managers, and doctors 😮😮 Everytime I attempt to give advice from my own professional experience she looks at me like I’ve lost my mind!

  • Reply Grateful Kae May 14, 2020 at 10:33 am

    I’m sorry you are feeling that way and going through that. I can relate, having been a nurse for over 15 years. There is definitely an aspect of that, as I’m sure you have witnessed, between MDs and RNs in many cases too. (not all the time- so many MDs highly respect and treat nurses with utmost respect, but others sadly do not). I have seen what you are describing between different specialties among the doctors as well. I work in Transplant and have seen some of the surgeons treat a “lowly” gen med or hospitalist provider different than they might treat a consulting ID or Cardiology specialist. It’s an interesting subject for sure!

  • Reply ehartung7 May 14, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    The first thing that struck me when you said being asked to do something that was not your job like moving a patient reminded me of Grey’s anatomy which is obviously woefully unrealistic in a lot of ways but I am always thinking doctors don’t do all the things. They have help and they need it because they study hard to help people and that’s amazing! So good for you. I’m glad we have doctors that care and want to treat those they work with well.

  • Reply Lyndsey Oliver May 15, 2020 at 4:58 am

    Hi Sarah. I’m loving yr quarantine blogs. You are so honest & self deprecating … @ compassionate. I’m a grandma …& currently stranded for the lockdown in NZ… our home & our granddaughters are in Scotland!! Your experiences are so universal to those of our friends & family all over the world!! Thank you. Have a relaxing weekend with yr lively family.
    Lyndsey ❣️

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 15, 2020 at 8:01 am

      Wow stuck in NZ! It does sound like a lovely place to be stuck but that also sounds so hard! Thank you so much for the kind words. ❤️

  • Reply Lori C May 23, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    I have had a crazy well so catching up on posts today. These scones look delicious ! I’m not much of a baker unless there is a boxed mix involved, but might give it a shot. Glad you are liking the 100 day program. When I cleared my counters it blew my mind. I didn’t think I had that much on them. But when they were empty I was like holy crap these look great! Lol

    • Reply Lori C May 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Crazy *week

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