Personal View

I was sexually harassed as a junior by senior doctors: it still goes on, and it needs to stop

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6302 (Published 21 October 2013)
Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6302

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  1. Anonymous

Sexual discrimination and harassment still occur in the clinical workplace. A doctor, who was advised to write anonymously, says that more must be done to find out the extent of the problem and protect those affected

As sexual scandal swirled around prelates, politicians, pop stars, and even school pupils, I read an article in Medical Education about students’ most memorable professional dilemmas.1 Most, depressingly, involved witnessing unprofessional and callous behaviour by their clinician teachers. Some involved being bullied; others involved undertaking intimate examinations without valid consent; but one in particular resonated with me.

During a ward round, a young male consultant spotted a female student and said: “You there—the decoration. Why did you ever come to medical school? Do you have a brain in that pretty head? What you need to do is put down that Heat magazine, climb out of bed with your boyfriend, and do some work.”

I had hoped that such experiences were a thing of the past. As a student I remember a macho surgeon who took a particular delight in humiliating female medical students. One ward round, smirking, he asked me to examine a male patient who was due to have an operation. The man was asked to undress completely. With obvious reluctance, …

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