By Patricia L. Raymond, MD, FACP, FACG
I really try hard to engage my nurses in the care of our mutual patient and to treat my nurses as the valuable colleagues they are. I interact. “How was your weekend?" "How are you doing?" "What do you think of (such and such)?" I get responses. Communication goes well.
And yet when Dr. Man steps up to the nursing station, the nurse-doctor dynamic shifts and I revert to a wallflower at the high-school sock hop.
Is it a pheromone thing? Is there nothing that I can do to offset the different way that female physicians, specifically Moi, are treated by staff? Do we need to bond over pedicures, which I loathe?
Looking for better solutions, I researched the topic of interactions amongst women and what I learned was surprising in both a bad and a good way.
Human sociology works against us. Pat Heim and Susan Murphy, authors of “In The Company of Women," speak of the social structure of women’s upbringing. Think back to your preteens. Remember the boys, with their roughhouse play, and definite hierarchy of top dog and minions? They continually fight for dominance. And then there are the girls, who act very different.