My Story of Discrimination in Medicine As a Young Hispanic Female.
These past weeks have been bad, and anyone who knows me knows I don’t say that often. I am the person that tries to remain strong as they say, learn from experiences and look at the positives but there are some things that go too far, and end up breaking my immunity to negative experiences. Where do I start. I will start in a consult room at 5pm. I was there for an evaluation for my sister to translate for my mom and be involved in my sister’s care. I was asked if I knew about a certain standardized test, as I was about to grab it the therapist told me that it was okay, that I wasn’t going to know what it was anyways. I let it pass. Later he kept dismissing various other things, and undermining my opinion because he claimed, I wasn’t going to understand anyways. After a few more jabs at me, I got up, told my mom and I we were going to leave and as I was leaving, I mentioned my education and he shared I should have said that earlier. Now we move on a few days later to a conference room at 12pm with some physicians and directors of a student program. Students were invited to share their thoughts on how to improve the medical program, this encompasses medicine, public health, pharmacy, therapy programs and nursing programs. As I was going in I was asked what I was doing there, as I stood next to a banner that said students with my bright yellow hospital badge on. I gave my elevator speech and carried on inside. Before sitting I was asked the same question as I once again stood close to a student banner with my bright yellow badge on. I gave my elevator speech and sat down. Now we move on to another consult room at 9am. I was with a patient; the patient was my mother. The PA refused to get an MRI and claimed I didn’t know what an MRI was for. I gave my elevator speech, and an MRI was ordered. We later found 4 herniated discs from L1 to L5.
Everyday I wake up and get myself ready to give my elevator speech. I am a 22-year-old Hispanic Female and I am doing a Master’s in Public Health and I am working towards my MD, along with being a researcher in surgery at a renowned hospital and a journalist. This elevator speech has allowed me to be involved in surgery, my family’s medical care, research, writing and many other things. But there is a problem withthis, you should not have to justify who you are to be given the same opportunities as the rest. You should not give someone different medical care because there are uneducated versus educated, you should not demean a student’s opinion because they are first generation student, you should not have to explain who you are to have equal opportunities as the student whose father and mother is a doctor, or Family who is American versus Hispanic, or Female versus Male, or Younger versus Older.
This is a reminder to everyone in medicine; doctors, students and patients. For doctors, you should not undermine a patient because you think they are too ignorant. You may be correct, that patient may be ignorant because they don’t have access to education like a lot of us but if so, then educate them, don’t undermine them. For patient’s, don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, whether you speak English or not, remember you have the right to know about your medical care and most certainly be involved in your medical care. Don’t be afraid to ask because that is how you will learn. For students. Sometimes you will have to give your elevators speech more than you want too, but don’t let that make you feel like you are ignorant or uncapable of being what and who you want to be, and, voice your opinion, don’t let them silence you because that is how they will undermine you. When I was in that conference room at 12pm I had a panic attack before because I was so scared to voice my opinion of the discrimination I felt, but I did and it felt relieving to know that I made them aware and made it a little better for the next minority student that will come through the door. So student’s don’t forget to use your voice, doctors don’t forget to education and patient’s don’t forget to ask.