Dr. Gary Tigges, an internal medicine specialist in Plano, Texas is getting a lot of press these days for a comment he said in a Dallas medical journal. Dr. Tigges stated:
“Female physicians do not work as hard and do not see as many patients as male physicians. This is because they choose to, or they simply don’t don’t want to be rushed, or they don’t want to work the long hours. Most of the time, their priority is something else … family, social, whatever.”
Nothing needs to be ‘done’ about this unless female physicians actually want to work harder and put in the hours. If not, they should be paid less. That is fair.”
It’s not fair to group all male doctors into this category of insensitivity and like with any profession, you can’t say all male doctors are bad and all female doctors are good. What we are saying is that the unfortunate reality is that there too many male doctors who blow women off instead of taking the time to listen, and this is by no means a recent issue. Perhaps women doctors see less patients, as Dr. Tigges mentioned, because women take more time to listen to each other. One real world example is that of transvaginal mesh (TVM). Hundreds of thousands of women complained to their doctors about the constant, stabbing pain, the inability to have sex, and other adverse effects that weren’t present before they had TVM only to be told that these symptoms were “just in their head.”
One study has even shown that this discrepancy found in hospitals is standard procedure and explains that women are “more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until they ‘prove that they are as sick as male patients.’” This bias even has a name in the medical community: “Yentl Syndrome.”
So what’s the answer? If you feel like your doctor isn’t listening – really listening – to your complaints, find a new one and complain to the hospital administration about the behavior. You may want to choose a female doctor who understands you on a more personal level to address gynecological issues. Regardless if your doctor is male or female, you need to find someone who has your health as their priority. Doctors take a “do no harm” oath before they start practicing medicine. Hold them to that and take as much time as you need to ask any questions you may have. You are your best advocate to get the medical help that you need, and together we can fight against sexism at the doctor’s office.