Articles  |   January 2017
I Too, Am a Physician
Author Affiliations
  • Omonele O. Nwokolo, M.D.
    Committee on Professional Diversity
Article Information
Cardiovascular Anesthesia / Critical Care / Education / CPD / Infectious Disease / Ophthalmologic Anesthesia / Sleep Medicine / Quality Improvement / Articles
Articles   |   January 2017
I Too, Am a Physician
ASA Monitor 01 2017, Vol.81, 42-43.
ASA Monitor 01 2017, Vol.81, 42-43.
A couple sprinted to catch their connecting flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong after their Houston flight was delayed several hours. His wife was likely in REM sleep when her husband woke her up. There was an in-flight emergency. The flight attendants were requesting a doctor. As a trained, board-certified anesthesiologist, his wife sprang into action. Her husband had already turned on the call button, and she got out of her seat ready to help. However, the flight attendant coming toward the call light was unimpressed. She rudely and with disbelief questioned her being a physician.
“Are you sure you are really a doctor? I don’t have time to waste.” After that comment, his wife immediately turned and headed back to her seat. She was conflicted, as someone needed help, but this flight attendant was preventing her from rendering aid. People around her were staring; no one would meet her gaze. Her husband was perplexed, while she, at the same time was calm, humiliated, angry and sad. But most unfortunate of all, it was all too familiar. However, before she got back to her seat, another flight attendant came running up to her. He profusely apologized on behalf of his colleague. He asked her very respectfully what type of physician she was. He asked where she practiced and if she had her license with her. Many physicians do not carry their license on them, but she told him where he could look it up. He led her to the patient. While checking her blood pressure, the former flight attendant who did not believe that she was a physician led a tall male to them, proclaiming, “we now have a doctor.” He instantly stated that he was a radiologist, to which the patient, a cardiologist herself, told him to please refrain from providing any assistance as she preferred the help of the anesthesiologist. The radiologist expressed to the female doctors that he was relieved she was there to deal with the situation at hand.
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