Erica Garcia, age 37
Caracas, Venezuela – Albuquerque, New Mexico – Honolulu, Hawaii
I have been a physician for 11 years. Everyday, even after introducing myself as a physician, I get asked: “so when am I gonna see the doctor?”. I have learned that some problems just run deeply in the subconscious fabric of our society. I have been asked this by many patients, of all sexes, races and ages. I know I don’t look at the “classic” part, but I have grown tired of explaining to people that I am an emergency physician. I have grown tired of spewing forth my experience/credentials in the first few moments I meet my patients in order to make them feel comfortable. I don’t see my male colleagues routinely needing to do this. God forbid I wear makeup to work – these incidents double.
In medical school I learned quickly long skirts and makeup are not a good thing to wear if I want to be taken seriously by others, even if I have a white coat. Well, I stopped wearing a white coat (most emergency physicians don’t, it’s a really messy job). I stopped straightening my hair. Sometimes, when I feel like it, I wear makeup. I would wear a skirt again if it was practical in the emergency room (it isn’t). I want people to see what doctors look like in 2019. What I have to say to society is: “The way I look: It may not be what you expected, but it is what you need.” I am a proud woman in medicine. and I am thankful for diversity of all types in medicine and in society – I am thankful we can collectively chip away at the unconscious and conscious bias.