So the other day, I was working with an attending in primary care, and like many attendings do, he asked me, "So, have you decided what you don't wanna go into?" I have never heard it asked that way before, and I thought it was an odd twist on the typical, "What specialty are you interested in?" that most attendings/residents ask us malleable med students. If you are new to my blog, then you probably don't know: I am super gung-ho about OB/Gyn. So when he asked me that question, I politely answered, "Well, I guess (I don't want to go into) anything other than OB/Gyn." Then he went on to scoff about how "self-assured" of me it was to say that. Dude, you asked!
That set the tone for the rest of the conversation. We happened to be working with a lot of geriatric patients that day, so he goes on to talk about one of his colleagues, and how old she was when she had her baby, so maybe I'll work with geriatric patients at times. I felt bad for one of the female residents who then awkwardly admits, "Oh, I'm 39 and I'd still like to have a child." He then proceeded to go off on some awkward mommy-issue-rooted rant about how women shouldn't have children any later than 40: because then "they don't get to spend any time with their kids or grandkids because they die too soon." He talked about how his mom died when he was 29, so "she missed out on my life and meeting her grandkids." Then he boasted about how his wife had their youngest child when she was 37 because of this very issue.
I think it's really easy to determine how women should or should not raise families when you are a man, because you totally know what you're talking about, and you totally know from experience. What particularly pissed me off was the fact that he shut down that poor female resident with his stupid rant. If he would have taken time to actually listen to her, he would have realized that she has been married for many years, has been busy pursuing a career in medicine, so in attempt to be responsible has been waiting, and finally is ready to have kids. He would have heard that she actually has been trying to get pregnant for a few years now, but it doesn't happen overnight.
I've gotten to the point this year where I'm tired of getting walked all over every day as a med student, and then getting graded on how well you lie on the floor after being walked on. So I decided to say something to this attending, because he was out of line. I said, "You know, unfortunately these days, if you want to pursue a challenging career, especially one in medicine, many women choose to put that part of their life on hold, and end up having to have children later." It wasn't a profound statement by any means, but he looked sort of dumbfounded, and then realized his audience - and shut up.