I’m beginning to think there’s either something wrong with me doing what I’m doing, or with how I’m doing it.

I figured out today that the way the guys were talking about the attendings wasn’t bad at all. I know this, because today I was present when a fair number of the residents started to give their uninhibited opinion of a few other residents, and it was not pretty.

I didn’t know what to do, except try unsuccessfully not to laugh. Granted, the people they were discussing have some peculiar mannerisms, and some of them are not the brightest pennies. But only one of them would I call downright irresponsible. The others are trying to do well, and just don’t quite match the other residents’ ideas of normalcy or success. So the senior residents are mocking away, and it really was hilarious, between their imitations and made-up lines, and actual quotes from the residents in question. (For instance, on the subject of how to avoid adding consults to one’s list of patients to see in the morning, they stated that one resident quite surpassed their expectations, by flatly lying to the medicine service (or perhaps she was just confused on the subject) about whether her group would consider seeing a certain patient. The internists took her at her word, and consulted another service. The surgery residents considered this a desirable outcome, but by astonishingly unethical means.)

So that was a bad thing to do, and fair to laugh at, I suppose. (Although really somebody ought to tell this resident how incredibly awful her performance is, and how horrified the rest of the residents and the attendings are by her either complete incompetence, or thorough dishonesty – no one is quite sure which it is. We’re hoping incompetence, which would make it funny, rather than dishonesty, which would make it reprehensible.)

But what about the other guys, who just have some unfortunate idiosyncrasies? I feel like I ought to say something along the lines of, “that’s not polite,” or “that’s not kind,” or “how would you like it if people talked that way about you?” (which indeed they sometimes do). But that would sound so completely schoolmarmish, and would only result in them not talking around me, and no doubt adding to the stories they tell about me. (I’m sure I’m shy and hesitant and socially inadequate enough to have plenty of jokes circulating about me.) Then that reminds me of Mark in That Hideous Strength, and what crimes he was led into by his desire to be part of a inner group; which is what the surgery residents have always been to me. Now nearly a proper resident, I’m getting closer and closer to being part of the inside group, and their pull on me is getting stronger.

Anyway. And then there’s the whole matter of women’s proper role in society (which the affair of the fundamentalist Mormon ranch brought up), on which I can’t say a single thing. I want to praise women who stay at home and take care of children, and I want to uphold a husband’s authority over his wife. But I can’t say a thing about what I really believe, and just have to listen to the conversation in silence, because if I open my mouth, I will instantly lose any chance of having equal dibs with the guys at the big cases, of being respected in the trauma bay or at ICU crises, of being listened to when I become more senior. I’ve never had to keep this quiet about my beliefs before. It makes me think I’m doing something wrong.

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