Why Do Patients Stereotype Female Surgeons?

#ILookLikeASurgeon Founder Heather Logghe On Discrimination In The Medical Field

Reported By Fallon Davis (Falsrealtalk)
Managing Editor of
The#MakeHealthPrimary Journal

Imagine getting up in the morning, having your cup of coffee and checking today’s weather report from your favorite local television station. Your morning is a typical one: it’s sunny outside and you are eating a hearty breakfast. Yesterday was your 300 calorie day off the new Jimmy Kimmel 5:2 fasting diet you just started and you are starving.

Finally, it’s time to get ready for work but working is the last thing on your mind and quite frankly you find it dreadful. Why dreadful? Well, every time you go to work you feel like you aren’t getting the respect you deserve. You know the atmosphere– overworked, underpaid, under compensated and downright overlooked. Yes, the key word is overlooked by… everyone.

Of course, we all can’t be the center of attention but it sure can get overwhelming to not be addressed by your rightful “title” that you slaved in college for over eight years to earn.

This scenario is all too familiar for the working-class citizen. It does not matter if you are a Baby Boomer, Gen-X, Millenial, male or female: there will always be stereotypes and borderline discrimination in the workplace.

In the year 2016, we all are judged in some way. Therefore, we can do nothing but embrace the differences among our co-workers and try to see through our vexing anger and confusion at anyone who would judge someone by their appearance.

In the medical field, the tables have somewhat turned and it’s now the patients that have a more critical eye on their doctors and nurses. In order to get insight into this dynamic, Dress A Med talked to the founder of the #ILookLikeASurgeon social media campaign, Dr. Heather Logghe, who is a working resident in general surgery.

Dr. Heather Logghe told us that no matter what color or gender you are, patients aren’t “comfortable” with certain things. For example, patients always mistake doctors without their lab coats as incoherent or lazy. Another issue is women surgeons always being mistaken as nurses.

Do you think this is fair? Is still also common in your workplace? We want to hear your stories.

Learn more about Dr. Heather Logghe below:

What is your specialty? What do you teach at your university?

I generally work on all parts of the body, so my specialty is general surgery. Currently, I am out of school and have completed two years of residency.

What influenced you to start I Look Like A Surgeon?

There was a Twitter campaign going around called “I Look Like an Engineer”. I thought it would be cool to tweet to my followers “I Look Like a Surgeon.” After I tweeted, it immediately started getting a lot of attention and became viral.

I read in BBC that you posted a selfie with the hashtag and immediately took it down because you were nervous. Why?

In my profession, there is a fine line regarding what is the appropriate language for social media. At the time, I was still in school and didn’t want to offend anyone because I wasn’t a surgeon yet.

Did you imagine your movement would get this big? What do you envision for the cause?

I never imagined #ILookLikeASurgeon would get this big. My friend suggested that I post the hashtag on my Twitter and here we are.

In what ways do you feel female surgeons are misrepresented? Why do you feel newly graduated female surgeons feel they aren’t welcomed in surgery?

The women aren’t misrepresented by their peers or other surgeons. Usually, it is the patients that stereotype the doctors. Sometimes the patients will mistake us for nurses or someone else. My supervisor who I was an apprentice for, was mistaken for food service by a patient. This is why we try to wear our lab coats to avoid confusion.

How have you/co-workers dealt with discrimination, stereotypes or unwelcoming situations in your field from patients or staff?

There are unwelcoming situations in every field. Generally, we don’t have any discrimination in the workplace and everyone respects each other.

The website Practice Green Health looks to be ahead of the game and is helping doctors go green in the operating room. Are there some tools/ containers/ etc that would be impossible to reuse in the OR because of the spreading of germs?

There are not many drawbacks but there are many advantages to making the ER green friendly. We reuse and sterilize just about everything and doing this saves a lot of money for the hospital. Of course, we throw out blue wraps that are paper although some hospitals use cloths that are washed and sterilized daily.

Join the #ILookLikeASurgeon movement on Twitter with Dr. Heather Logghe.


Today is April 4, 2017 also known as #20PercentCounts day. To learn about the missing 20%, visit http://leanin.org!

The #MakeHealthPrimary Journal is a Dress A Med publication.

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