Snide comments about my age on rotation from a PA, who happens to be my boyfriend's ex. What to do?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Imogen, Aug 8, 2015.

  1. Imogen

    Imogen Class of 2017!
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    I'm 28 and in my M3 year. I started a new rotation this past week, and a found out that a PA who'd be working with my team happens to be my boyfriend's ex. Honestly, we don't really know each other at all, so while I have to admit feeling a little weird about the situation, I didn't think much of it. But there was a group conversation about birthdays recently and our ages came up. She's about a year older than me, but even still, she made a comment about how it must be "so uncomfortable to know that the residents I work under are my age" (or even a little younger in some cases). Being terrible at confrontation and witty comebacks, I just kind of laughed it off and went to the nearest computer to do some pretend notes, because I was actually pretty hurt. I had a medical problem during/after undergrad and so sometimes I do feel a little sad to be older in med school. Like maybe if I'd tried harder to work through my treatments I could have applied sooner, been done sooner, be in residency RIGHT NOW, etc.

    Anyway, I got control of my negative thoughts when I went home, but throughout this week, this girl has made other comments that can't possibly be chalked up to just pure idiocy. Constantly mentioning to me and fellow classmates that her current boyfriend (my age) is just starting as an anesthesia attending, asking me how I don't already know how to do xyz and seeming to act excessively surprised about it. Today's delightful episode took place following a pimping session she overheard, during which she went on about how embarrassing it must be to not know a protocol that a younger classmate had been able to answer correctly. This was within earshot of my team.

    I'm a pretty average med student and I already feel dumb enough, without having this added crap to deal with on top of the usual pimping and self-doubt. I'm not sure if this best thing to do would be to confront her directly, to report her (I guess to my clerkship leadership), or to do nothing at all and just suck it up for the next few weeks. It's awkward to make a big deal out of this, and I really don't want people to think I'm picking on a PA, being an arrogant med student, or just plain whining, but at this point, I'm getting concerned about my competency being undermined and my grades being affected.

    Any advice on a best course of action?
     
    #1 Imogen, Aug 8, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  2. chipwhitley

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    Maybe you should remind her that even though you may be working under residents who are younger than you today, eventually you will be an attending and working under no one. Whereas she will always be working under someone her entire life - and it may be someone far younger, too.

    Honestly, she's being ridiculous and trying to get at you. Just ignore her is what I'd say. To quote Donald Trump - She sounds like a loser. Age is largely irrelevant, it's skills, knowledge, and experience that matter.
     
  3. FriendlyFH

    FriendlyFH Arf medicine
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    study shows that the bullies then to be less happy then the bullied. As unhappy as she makes you, it must have been a much much greater torment for her to see her ex moved on to someone who will one day be her boss. You win in life already, pity the pitiful.
     
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  4. Crayola227

    Crayola227 The Oncoming Storm
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    Go to clerkship director if you have enough dirt, but know they will confront the PA so you have to know how much you can expect to interact with her and her coworker cronies on down the line.

    Someone did when residents said worse things about some med student I knew on rotation and they had the residents had their asses handed to them.

    But it has to be a comment when taken out of context sounds inappropriate, so far what you've said the PA could explain as "concern" or sympathy or just harmless comment, or is only bad said with a certain tone and in context. Think on it.
     
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  5. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    He made fun of you for being old at 28? Lol.
     
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  6. futuremdforme

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    Is she in a position to give feedback that affects your mark or evaluation? If so, report it. Otherwise, meh, I'm 31 starting ms1 this month. Lots of careers have you work for younger people. Look at software (Facebook!).
     
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  7. sloop

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    If it was me, I'd first approach her about it. Be respectful, but make your point clear. Tell her something like "Hey, some of the stuff you've said has been pretty hurtful. If you didn't mean it this way, I understand but I'm just letting you know how it feels to me. In the future I'd just appreciate it if you try to be a little more careful about saying things that might be taken as belittling. It just puts me in a really embarrassing spot when you act astonished about what I don't know or comment on how someone younger knows more than me, especially when my team can hear. I hope you understand. Thanks, have a nice day." If the behavior continues, report her. When you report her, explain that you had talked to her about it. If she continues to do this stuff even after you attempted to deal with it on your own in a professional way, people are gonna go to bat for you.

    Besides, I just can't see this going the PA's way here. It's not like it's an attending physician. It's a PA. Unless your team/clerkship director are really malicious, I doubt any one of them is going to be happy that you're being abused by a PA. You shouldn't stand for this and chances are nobody on your team wants you to stand for this either.
     
  8. mw18

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    Going into the rotation you weren't really worried about it because she's nobody to you. Which means she's a nobody. Which means she doesn't matter. It really sucks that she hurt your feelings. It really does. But you just can't let the opinions of people that don't matter, matter. You just can't. And the things she's saying are nonsensical. I'm 28 and there are 117 people in my class that know things that I don't and I'm betting about 110 of them (at least) are younger than me. Nothing could matter less to me, and it shouldn't matter to you. You are a med student. This website is full of people who are, sometimes desperately, trying to be that. You've accomplished a great deal for someone any age already, and you're just beginning. And I don't want to critique your team dynamic, but if anything like this happens to someone else you're rotating with (admittedly unlikely) - stand up for them.
     
  9. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
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    I would just suck it up. Reporting things probably won't change anything and if you talk to her directly you might get reported for threatening or some bs like that. Third year is mostly about flying under the radar
     
  10. DocVapor

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    I have to agree with just getting some thicker skin and letting it go. Right now you are below the lowest rung on the healthcare totem pole, but everyone knows that in a few short years you will be jumping most of them. There are plenty of people out there in all professions that are going to be bitter about it, so they do their best to get their punches in on you now.

    Your situation with this individual is magnified somewhat, but it still just boils down to her trying to get her passive aggressive rocks off while you have no option for retaliation.

    Show me a medical student that hasn't had to deal with something like this at least once and I will send you $5.
     
  11. xffan624

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    How long will you be working with this person? If it's for a couple weeks, suck it up and avoid said person as much as possible. If it's for months, you might want to consider a more permanent solution, including talking to the attending (depending on their approachability or whoever your direct report is on the team. Don't go directly to the clerkship director, first. Work through the chain of command.

    Also 28 is not old. You have nothing to ashamed about. The sad thing for this PA will be she will likely be making the same snide comments to all the medical students who come through her service until someday one of them becomes her boss.
     
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  12. bashwell

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    By the way, since she's your boyfriend's ex, maybe what's really happening is she's jealous of you and being catty towards you (especially if your boyfriend was the one who dumped her)?
     
    #12 bashwell, Aug 9, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  13. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    Ignore her immaturity and focus on your rotation.

    You're not dumb, she's jealous and childish.
     
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  14. ----------12c

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    Forget her! You are a future doctor! All she is; is a mid level. She is most likely jealous.
     
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  15. gators21

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    A bunch of passive aggressive people here. Stand up for yourself. Christ, you are 28 years old. This isn't grade school. If you don't want to interact with this person you don't have to. Walk up to her, tell her to mind her own business , that she is being very unprofessional, and be done with it. If it continues, then report her. That is it. There is no other solution
     
  16. Goro

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    100% agree with my learned colleague. We're not in high school, kids; this is a workplace, and the ex-GF is violating rules, period.


     
  17. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    Really? If it's just the occasional stupid comment, I would ignore it as long as it's not seriously interfering with anything.

    .....Okay, I'm pretending I would take the high road. What *i* would do is make sure to look extra fabulous all the time, ignore the ex's existence, and group text with my girlfriends about how the moron mid level is totes jeal of me, my future MD, and my hot doctor bf.
     
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  18. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring
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    First off, you really shouldn't be letting the age thing get to you. It isn't a race, not dies going to medical school at a later age say anything of your cognitive abilities. Her comments shouldn't bother you because they're ridiculous.

    Second, her behavior is unacceptable. If it continues, I would let her know directly that it is unacceptable, and if she continues, notify her supervisor or HR. You have the right to a physically and emotionally safe learning environment.
     
  19. NontradCA

    NontradCA American Hero
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    I usually agree with you, but this seems extreme. Why not talk to the person first?
     
  20. IlDestriero

    IlDestriero Ether Man
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    Laugh all the way to the bank.
    Once in a while one of the CRNAs brings up how we are leaving at noon or 1 from one of the ASCs or early from the OR and they work until 5 or 7 or whatever. I just remind them politely that that's the job, and I don't see them taking any call with me. They're not my partner and they don't get partner benefits. That's another gripe of theirs btw, we get Cadillac benefits and they get the same average nurse benefits as all the other nurses.
    Oh well, if you want to hang with the big dicks, go to medical school. (and do a residency and fellowship while you're at it.)
     
  21. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    You're so wise :)
     
  22. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    If OP is very concerned or if things start to escalate, I would share those concerns via email whomever is appropriate( rotation coordinator/?) and not verbally so there's at least some semblance of a paper trail.


    I still stand by my previous statement though. Ex is clearly jealous.
     
  23. NontradCA

    NontradCA American Hero
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    I want dat job :/.
     
  24. sloop

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    My personal style would be to professionally approach the person first in a non-accusatory way, but I cannot fault anyone for not doing it. It's honestly not your job to handle these situations by yourself.

    One other option that I will mention is that many schools now have specific reporting systems for these types of problems that one encounters on rotations. My school has such a system. The reporting is anonymous and I believe goes above the clerkship director to the dean of academic affairs for the med school. My understanding is they coordinate and conduct an investigation that likely includes HR. The downside of this option in this particular situation would be that, at least for my med school, it is mainly used to report abusive residents and attendings so the investigation does not get launched until after the grades are submitted in order to not influence evaluations. As such, it would probably not resolve the current situation. On the other hand, we have been told that if a student reports a legitimate problem that would jeapordize evaluations, a later grade dispute is much more credible and that students have had their grades changed following these situations in the past.

    Ultimately there are different channels depending on how you want this handled and what your main concerns are.
     
  25. Pound4Pound

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    Am I missing something here? 28 is still young! :)

    Just ignore her OP. You're going to become a doctor! and she's just a PA. She's just jealous of you. Have more confidence in yourself! You will not know everything. The fact that you got into medical school means you're a bright student. Remember there are a lot of people who would love to be in your place right now.

    Also every hospital has different protocols. Don't let that get you down. I'm guessing doing rotations is like starting a new job in a different hospital. It will take time to learn the policy, protocols, and work flow. Just keep asking questions. Good luck!!
     
  26. TBV

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    Lots of passive aggressive statements here. Pull her aside and let her know that it bothers you that she keeps bringing up your age, remind her that you may not know everything because you are just learning. She'll probably fold like a paper swan, apologize, and then you both go about your lives.
     
  27. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    Girls can be incredibly hard to reason with, especially exes. I don't see the "have a talk with her and everything will get better" thing going very well....
     
  28. ----------12c

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    I doubt that. If you tell her I'm just learning she will continue to be a jerk.
     
  29. sloop

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    Then report her.

    I seriously do not understand what types of people you all must be working with on rotations. I know that on my current rotation, any resident or attending that heard that I was getting abused like this would be livid that it was happening. They would not fault me for saying something or get mad at me for making waves. They'd simply be angry that somebody was trying to belittle and make life hard for someone on their team when they are just trying to learn, do their best and contribute what they can to patient care.
     
  30. TBV

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    Then maybe you talk to your boyfriend, get her address maybe her cat goes missing. Maybe she receives a box containing the collar covered in fake blood with a note reminding her to play nice? Who knows?
     
  31. Pacna

    Pacna Dyslexics, untie!
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    Remind me not to cross you.
     
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  32. ----------12c

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    Or just get her address go to her house and stomp her, cut her phone lines and do not let her leave. When she doesn't show up to work for weeks and doesn't call she will be fired! Problem solved.
     
  33. pulmoblast

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    Ah first world problems !
     
  34. Winged Scapula

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    Then consider yourself lucky.

    These are very difficult situations when the offending party is a valued employee. There are many stories (and I can contribute to them) of attendings not wanting to interfere when the offending party is someone they've worked with for years and will continue to do so (i.e., nursing staff, a PA) after you're off service.

    I don't see this PA being mature enough to realize she's behaving unprofessionally if the OP talks about it with her, but its worth a try. This kind of woman tends to blame others for their own insecurities (I mean, really...she's bragging about having an anesthesiologist attending as her current BF? Who cares?). The OP should document everything and report her if it doesn't stop.
     
  35. Stagg737

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    Normally I'd say this would be the best initial route, but the fact that the girl is an ex of her boyfriend changes the whole dynamic. Women can get catty (so can guys, but we typically handle it differently), especially mid-levels, and especially when it involves their exes. Combine the two and you're stepping into a huge pit of potential irrationality.
     
  36. Winged Scapula

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    You guyz are working too hard.

    All you have to do, if one was so inclined, is to spoof her email and send an innocuous thread to her employer and several other people. Then send a "reply all" pretending like you meant to only to send to one person on the list and detailing everything you've done to the OP, or something else cringeworthy that she could have done, complaining about her boss etc.

    Shanking people is so old fashioned. Use some electronic stealth.

    I may or may not know how to do this.
     
  37. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    Omg I love you
     
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  38. wjs010

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    Anytime you get flack from someone in a mid-level position in that manner, you can rest assured that it's jealousy. People wanna be doctors, but they don't wanna go through all the years of training and hard work.
     
  39. sloop

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    Fair enough. I can see that happening. It's hideous, though. I'll keep this story in mind when I'm an attending. I'd never tolerate people treating someone on my team this way—especially not someone who is vulnerable like a med student.

    Then again, I've never been great at playing the professional ladder-climbing and boat-stabilization games. I actually worry a lot that my personality is going to bite me professionally, but I cannot abide letting people act like tools, abuse others and interfere with work environments because they were good to me in the past or I'm afraid of future conflict.
     
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  40. wjs010

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    Btw, even starting as early as the same age as one would normally graduate from college (22), you'd be 26 as an M4. The average starting age is 25-26... So it's completely normal to be 28-29 at that point. The PA is a moron.
     
  41. fancymylotus

    fancymylotus A Whole New World
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    Affirmative, esp since the average age of a matriculant has gone up, like you said
     
  42. hayden29

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    I think the best method would be to politely (although difficult) ask her to stop what she is doing and if she persists then it may be best to bring the issue up to a supervisor. She is definitely in the wrong, however, try not to give her the satisfaction of seeing her snide remarks have an effect on you. Clearly she is immature and feels insecure to the point that she must try to hurt you and she must be stopped. You have what it takes to be a competent doctor or you wouldn't be where you are! Stay strong and don't let people like her bring you down. Good luck!
     
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  43. DokterMom

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    "At least I'll be a doctor when I get to be your age. I'm sure I'll be able to learn that stuff by then."


    JK


    Sorta.


    You need to let a few of your team members know that your boyfriend used to date this PA and that you imagine that's the underlying reason for her unprofessional comments, but that they're starting to get on your nerves. Don't go on and on and on about it because that will only make you look weak. But this is the kind of gossipy news that travels fast. Trust that it will --

    I'm not sure what the political environment is like there, but @SouthernSurgeon has a really good point that anyone who goes this far will go farther, and if she's not normally a wacko, someone whose opinion of you matters may take her comments at face value. You may very well want to go to the person who will be putting together your evaluation, apologize for bringing your personal business into the workplace, but then tell them that her conduct has been unprofessional and why. And of course - document. What, where, when, who else witnessed.

    If you do choose to escalate, do first speak to her directly so you can honestly say you've made an attempt to rectify the situation. When you talk to her, present it in such a way that you make it clear her comments reflect badly on her moreso than on you.
     
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  44. ----------12c

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    My HERO!
     
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  45. zeppelinpage4

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    We have two deans at our programs. One is the academic dean, and the other is a dean of students. The dean of students at our program is specifically there to discuss personal situations like this, and help come up with solutions. Her title also entails keeping these personal details private, so they do not go to the clerkship directors or anyone else academic related. She's been great so far and helped several of us out already. I don't know if this is specific to my program, or how involved the dean of students is with your class, but they might be the person to go to. You can explain the situation, and he/she could potentially help you figure out how to proceed best from there.

    I would absolutely go to someone regarding the issue. That is incredibly unprofessional behavior, and people like that deserve to be reported. Having a report on her file could also benefit future students if this PA pulls this crap on someone else down the road. MS3 is stressful enough, you should not have to put up with this.
     
    #45 zeppelinpage4, Aug 9, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  46. ----------12c

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    On second thought OP just ask the PA to meet you in the hall and tell her that your boyfriend said she was nothing but a easy trick and he wanted a real woman to settle down with and that is why you guys are together. He didn't want the hospital bimbo. The middle level will get mad. She will he hurt worse than you where hurt. Make sure to have a friend secretly video taping it on mute so know one can hear you but if the she attacks you she will be fired and you are free. Easy enough!
     
  47. W19

    W19
    Physician Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    If you are going to talk to her, make sure you have a witness or I don't know if it's appropriate to record the conversation... I have seen this dynamic before in the workplace, and sadly the bully always come on top..
     
  48. Goro

    Faculty 7+ Year Member

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    You're working with your colleague and s/he grabs your ass.

    Says "You're too old to be working here...you should be enjoying retirement" when you're 60.

    Says "why are you working here? You should be home with the kids when you're a woman.

    Say to you "Wow, I'd like to [perform sexual acts with you].


    Why not talk to the person first?

    Because the actions are illegal.

    They are discriminatory and create a hostile work environment.

    Ditto with what's happening to the OP.

     
  49. Psai

    Psai Snitches get zero vicryl
    Physician 2+ Year Member

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    Now, now let's not be hasty. I see nothing wrong with women being proud of being with an anesthesiologist
     
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  50. masaraksh

    7+ Year Member

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    C'mon its a little bit of a stretch to compare snide comments to full on sexual harassment.
     
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