The pornification of the medical profession

The pornification of the medical profession

What does this sound like?

As she delivered her thoughtful patient presentations to me and the other attending doctors, it was hard not to notice her low-cut dress.

A Harlequin romance? A soft-core film? Nope. It’s from an essay in the New York Times (When Young Doctors Strut Too Much.)

Among older and middle-aged physicians (like myself), tales of salacious and sloppy trainee attire abound. One colleague commented that a particularly statuesque student “must have thought all her male patients were having strokes” when she walked in their exam room wearing a low-cut top and a miniskirt… One Midwestern medical school dean reported that her school instituted a formal dress policy after administrators noticed students revealing too much flesh while sunbathing on a small patch of grass outside the school building, directly below patients’ hospital room windows.

Patients, especially older ones, won’t take doctors as seriously and may not be as open with them when they fail to show up for work dressed as expected. Smutty novelists and film makers may also have to take things up a level to differentiate themselves. Is it all part of the pornification of America?

November 21, 2006

2 thoughts on “The pornification of the medical profession”

  1. I used to make a big deal about professional decorum when I was a med student and resident. I made myself so unpopular with my views that my professors noticed.

    I’ve loosened up in recent years. On Sundays I’ll go with an open collar and might wear jeans (with or without sneakers).



  2. I actually just finished writing about this. The article bothered me on a couple of levels – the imagery, which made it look like it was all about women dressing inappropriately, and the realization that med students don’t receive training around this.

    It would be nice to assume that someone would have the common sense to know that a certain level of decorum is expected and appropriate when dealing with patients/clients; however, it doesn’t work that way. I think psychology had the advantage here because there’s been a fair chunk of research devoted to the impact of the therapist/clinician/psychologist on the client. We’re trained from year one that our appearance and our demeanor impacts our effectiveness. We are taught to always consider the impact that our appearance, our words, and our behavior is going to have on our clientele.

    Physicians are just starting to come around. With the relatively new emphasis on breaking down the Physician-Patient power differential, doctors are starting to think about how behaviors, words, and settings can impact patient care. Hopefully, personal appearance won’t get lost in the shuffle.

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