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How Healthy is Your Workplace?

Considering the amountrattlesnake sign of time  we spend at work, our health at work determines not only a large part of how we feel during the day, but how we feel in life.

Medical Training is Woefully Incomplete

While I was trained in medical school and residency how to recognize emergencies, stop the flow of bleeding, save lives, my medical training lacked one crucial element: how to survive misogyny in medicine.

woman with boxing gloves We’ve all heard how the confident, competent businessman is “assertive”; yet the female version is a “bitch”.

Witness this scene: At my former group practice, midwives and physicians worked together. On the surface there was harmony most of the time. However, there was always this undercurrent of I don’t know what–jealousy?

The doctors and midwives were attending our weekly practice meeting. The only male in the group was my senior partner, Jim. The content of the meeting was how to handle declining reimbursement for the midwives who were doing the bulk of the deliveries. In the context of this difficult issue, Jim said with a sneer to Karen, the best midwife of the group, “A garbage keeper could do your job.” viperAll the rest of us (four women) looked around at each other in stunned silence. No one knew quite how to respond to such a blatantly hostile statement in a meeting of professionals. Not only was Jim insulting the midwife, Karen’s, professional training, experience, and skill; he was insulting me, for I had chosen Karen to deliver my second child; and he insulted all of women’s pregnancy care by likening it to picking up the garbage.

And the sad thing was…he got a way with it! Not a single person had the guts to say to him his remark was inappropriate. I think the practice manager may have spoken with him later about it, but even of that I’m not sure.

This wasn’t the first or last in a series of misogynistic statements by Jim toward Karen or myself. I’m not sure why he singled out the two of us–maybe because since we were the most driven and productive people in the practice we incited jealously. Who knows? It doesn’t matter.

Here’s what matters: Over the years I endured disparaging remarks from Jim about everything from my looks to my wardrobe to my politics to my sport. I withstood this all in silence for I knew saying what needed to be said would cause a blow out. And it eventually did. Ultimately, though, it’s best for mine and Karen’s health. When your work explosion environment is toxic sometimes the best solution is to get out before the poison kills you.

  • Have you had experiences in the workplace that have impacted your health?
  • What was the nature of these experiences?
  • How did you deal with them?
  • Have you founds ways to successfully navigate a “toxic” work environment.
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