So Saturday morning morning was weird. Was helping out at a CPD seminar the MJA ran. Ninety doctors in one room — mix of ages, mix of genders, mix of ethnicities.
I’ve never been one to put doctors on a pedestal, even more so since working with them, even though I respect their brains and work ethic. My dad’s experience as a young man taught him, and me, that doctors are fallible just like you and me. And yet … And yet.
Turns out a room full of doctors who think they’re not being overheard can be as mean, condescending and brutally porcine as any other group.
Saturday’s proceedings started out with a presenter who decided that calling the woman who was handing around the microphone “the dancing girl” was acceptable.
In the course of his presentation he had reason to show on the big screen a photo of an obese man sitting in a plastic chair on a beach while two bikini-clad babes clowned around trying to pull him to his feet. “They’re not going to enjoy the view when they finally do get him up.” Apparently the audience found that hilarious.
That was the moment when I, the only obese non-doctor in the room, realised that I was feeling unsafe in what was essentially my workplace, and decided to sit out the rest of the presentation in the lobby.
The next speaker was talking about sleep apnoea and COPD (overlap syndrome).
Enter a photo of an index patient — an obese man in his late 50s, unshaven, on oxygen … “Can someone tell me something about this patient?” asks the presenter.
“He’s a blue bloater”, a doctor yells back. “Yes indeed” says the presenter.
Much hilarity ensues.
Every profession has its internal shorthand, God knows journos are no exception. And ‘blue bloater’ and ‘pink puffer’ are short descriptors of certain types of patient. I don’t care. It was appalling. Particularly to the only pink puffer in the room.
I guess it just came as a shock to find doctors, particularly GPs, being so … High school …
Disappointing. And yet, sadly unsurprising.