The Rebellion

Ugh!!!  I have been so frustrated with work lately, and it’s making me really miserable.  My new chief resident doesn’t like me at all, for whatever reason.  She makes it a point to nitpick and nag at me only at conferences, in front of my entire residency, medical students, and some attendings.  And she singles me out for this kind of nagging.  She doesn’t do this to anyone else, and I think it’s for two reasons: first, she doesn’t like me, and second: she knows I am too nice to say anything back.  And it’s not just her.  Certain attendings do it, and now other residents have seen how she does and are now nagging at me.  Believe me, I understand the usefulness of constructive criticism- but this is hardly constructive.  It’s condescending.  It’s fighting over truly trivial matters and giving me this attitude of “how could you have been so stupid.”  This has been going on every day for over 2 months.  Every single day.  And forget about positive reinforcement- there is none.  zero. zip. zilch.

I even had a secretary threaten to “tell on me” to my program director if I didn’t copy a paper for her.  And she was serious.  It sounded just like “I’m gonna tell your father if you don’t…”  What, am I five?

But I have HAD it.  With everyone.  With my entire residency, my fellow residents, certain attendings, even certain medical students and some of my patients.  Enough is enough.

I used to be really sad and puzzled about why everyone treats me like this.  I felt like I was back in middle school again, all awkward with braces and not fitting in.  I have been crying at night more nights in a row than I care to count.  But now I’m just angry- and I realize that I’m not doing myself any favors by being nice to them (a.k.a., I have become their doormat).  I’m enabling their nastiness.  Last night, in a rush of tears, anger, and using a pillow as a punching bag for the millionth time this week, something just snapped.  I have stopped being super nice.  I’m even a little snappy, if they deserve it- something I have never done at work before.

And I feel a little better after just one day.

The catch: if I continue to be snappy, I’m no better than they are. On the other hand, if I don’t stand up for myself, I am a (depressed) doormat.  I need to find a happy medium, but how does one find equilibrium when they are exhausted?  My life is so off balance- I put in 105 hours in my first week of my second year!  105!  When am I supposed to have anything resembling a life?! 

I don’t want to be down in the dumps anymore.  I am a perky morning person, usually, but not anymore.  I am angry at everything and becoming rebellious.  I feel like a teenager who is always in trouble- it’s always “How old are you,” and “you should know better,” and “you don’t look like a doctor,” and “you’re too blonde and wear too much pink,” or “I’m gonna tell on you.”  And, just like a teenager, it all makes me want to rebel.  And/or quit.  But usually just rebel.  More pink outfits.  More mascara. More sparkly pink pens, pink highlighters, and of course, my signature pink crocs.  Blonder highlights.  There, take that! 
Furthermore, when did I become the rebel??  When did I become the one who’s always in trouble??  Me, the girl who always tried to stay OUT of trouble- I’m the bad girl in my residency.  I’m the one who doesn’t look like all the others.  I’m the one who walks to the beat of a different drum…me?!
But in the end, nobody wins this war! 

Talking with mom about it, it became apparent that in this game, it’s still so backwards.  For anyone thinking about going into medicine, some advice.  In medicine, it’s not 2011- it’s 1952.  If you’re young, female, blonde, relatively decent appearing, wearing makeup and sporting highlights, you’d better be prepared.  You’re gonna have to be twice and fast, twice as smart, twice as good, twice as strong as any of your male counterparts to make it in this business.  Because here’s the truth: people expect you to mess up, and some people even want to you mess up.  If you do make a mistake (which is inevitable since it’s a learning program), they blame it on the fact that you’re blonde and stupid.  If you don’t mess up (or even if you excel), people will say it’s what you should have been doing all along.  At no point will you receive kudos or praise.  You cannot win, and it’s incredibly frustrating. 

In the end, maybe it will make me better….?  Maybe I’ll be a better physician?  Maybe I’ll be a better senior or chief to my fellow residents?  Maybe.  But right now, it’s just so very, very frustrating.  And I’m nearing the end of my quickly fraying rope.  Someone, please throw me a better rope!!

2 thoughts on “The Rebellion”

  1. Know the feeling — only this broad is 63, going on 64, not blonde — people seem to think it is alright to put others down so they feel bigger! What happened to common courteous behavior? Have parents stopped teaching their children the Golden Rule? It is great to stand up for yourself, but this should not be a continuous up-hill battle! Stay in there, Dr L! Vicki

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