This month’s Journal Club post was written by Emily Zarookian, MD based on the article: Just fun or a prejudice? – physician stereotypes in common jokes and their attribution to medical specialties by undergraduate medical students by Sigrid Harendza and Martin Pyra.  

“Have you heard this one?”, the surgical resident asks myself and fellow medical students during our third year general surgery rotation. “How do you hide a $100 dollar bill from an orthopedic surgeon? Put it in a textbook! How do you hide a $100 dollar bill from an internist? Put it under a dressing! How do you hide a $100 dollar bill from a general surgeon? Tape it to his wife’s forehead!”

Most medical students are exposed to jokes regarding stereotypical attributes of various specialties during medical school. In this paper, Harendza and Pyra, attempt to analyze what degree of stereotypes exists among medical students at various stages of training by extracting characteristics from common “doctor jokes” and analyzing how medical students assign these to various specialties over time.

Discussion Questions

  1. Reflecting back on your medical school experience, do you think it is possible your specialty selection was influenced by exposure to commonly held stereotypes regarding what type of personality belongs in which specialty?
  2. Do you think the demonstrated increase in congruent assignments of stereotypical characteristics to specialties over the course of medical school is actually due to stereotypical doctor jokes? Or is there any underlying truth within these jokes which medical students discover with exposure to various specialties?
  3. Is it surprising that the most stereotypes seemed to exist regarding general surgeons and psychiatrists? Why would this be?

 

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