Medical Practice

Are Unmarried Doctors Treated Differently At Work?

Author: Dr Deepthi N.S.

With almost no studies or articles to back up this topic. Here I am venturing into an unknown territory of trying to really understand if you get the lion’s share (read unfair share) when you don’t have the ring.

Treating Patients with Infectious Diseases

So let’s start of by first addressing the most concerning problem of all. Operating or doing invasive procedures on patients who are positive for COVID-19, HIV, HBsAg etc… , there is a gentle yet undeniable push of these patients to unmarried doctors based on the logic that in the rare event of a skin prick, you got less at stake to lose. So by this analogy one can assume two things, the unmarried doctor’s life holds less value because he/she has not conformed to the society’s timeline for marriage and most disturbing of all if you’re seropositive your treatment is not based on which doctor is best able to tie a suture but more on which doctor has not yet tied the knot. This trend was extrapolated to taking up Covid duties during the pandemic as well where many single doctors where pushed to the front line. Kind reminder single doctors too have people in their lives, not all of them return back to unlit homes, they have people and pets waiting for them too!

Unfair Duty Roster

This goes without much explanation as it also extends to many other professions outside the medical field as well. Late night office hours to submit on a deadline when your married colleagues have taken off earlier for their kids parent teacher meetings is not unheard off. Yes there are some genuine emergencies and it’s a team work where you need to be kind and helpful but your son’s scheduled cricket match is not. Subtle gaslighting amongst single doctors to take up night duties similarly aren’t unheard off. Keep in mind most of them are young with no additional post duty day off on the following day (as seen with some hospitals). The night duties don’t come with additional pay or benefits too in most hospitals. Yet this sacrifice is considered as a norm in the medical profession.

Name and Shame

“So how was your Saturday night? (wink)” , “Why are you wearing that deep shade of red lipstick?”… These are some of the casual remarks thrown at a single doctor on a daily basis. Yes the girls face a lot more when it comes to this and yes the married couples too get prejudiced questions thrown at them. This calls for a whole another article but I cannot exclude this point because let me tell you the number of times I’ve gotten “Is that your boyfriend?” while I’m texting my mother at work is definitely annoying.

Not in for the Long Haul

So another less obvious but one that has the most long term damage is the expectancy of the single doctor to ‘not stick around’, single doctors are ‘not in for the long haul’. The question is asked during interviews but I’ve always felt that my performance and dedication to the institute whether I’m in for the short term or long term shouldn’t affect in me getting hired, but this is of course open to discussion. The matter becomes worrisome when some senior surgeons don’t consider it necessary to impart their skills and knowledge since mentorship is considered as a ‘long term commitment’.

CONCLUSION

So with all the above prejudices one can assume that the message being sent out is married people are disabled and the single people are able-bodied co-workers who should pitch in to help. Or can I safely assume that being ‘single’ corresponds to having ‘no kids’ and being ‘married’ means having ‘kids’ and there’s no other combination to this ?

Though it doesn’t take place in the medical workforce – salaries are biased, but it’s unfair when you’re a single doctor who is paying your cousin’s college fees or conducting your niece’s marriage or covering the medical expenses for your watchman’s son or taking care of your parents long term. Why is it assumed that single people have less expenditure? I’ve read about the company insurances in some corporate sectors only covering for yourself, spouse and children and not for your immediate blood relations. Do any hospitals have such criterias? Unheard of but open to discussion. What does one do if you’re single, have lost both parents and have to take care of a sibling who’s say disabled or unemployed?

 Maybe my priority is a zumba class on the weekdays and yours is being with your child doing homework, unless of course an emergency arises during which either party should be willing to cover.

I have kept this gender neutral but I’m sure there are stark differences when gender comes into play. I’ll keep that for another article. So far my take on this is, please keep your badge of honor at home, at work we all need equal pay and play!

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