A physician wrote a no-holds-barred letter about what female doctors go through.

There are twice as many male doctors as female doctors in the United States, according to some estimates.

When Suzanne Koven, a longtime physician and now writer in residence at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was coming up as a young doctor some 30 years ago, the gap was even bigger.


Today, "women make up half or even more than half of the entering classes of many U.S. medical schools," she says of the progress. But "we still have a long way to go."

Koven recently helped a group of medical interns write a letter to their future selves. She took the chance to write a letter of her own, giving advice to her younger self.

In it, she warned a wide-eyed intern version of herself of the challenges ahead and gave the advice she wishes she'd had back then.

"When I started my internship 30 years ago, I wasn’t invited to share my hopes and anxieties in a letter — or anywhere else, for that matter," she wrote in the letter, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Better late than never.

Photo via iStock/illustration by Upworthy.

Recalling the early days of her own medical career, Koven described plenty of casual and maddening sexism:

"On your urology rotation in medical school, you were informed that your presence was pointless since 'no self-respecting man would go to a lady urologist.'

There will be more sexism, some infuriating, some merely annoying. As a pregnant resident, I inquired about my hospital’s maternity-leave policy for house officers and was told that it was a great idea and I should draft one.

Decades into practice, when I call in a prescription, some pharmacists still ask for the name of the doctor I’m calling for."



She also noted that hospitals are full of crude "bro humor" that can alienate women.

She went on to cite perhaps the most depressing statistic of all: Female physicians earn, on average, about $20,000 less than their male counterparts.

"But there’s also a more insidious obstacle that you’ll have to contend with — one that resides in your own head," she wrote. "You see, I’ve been haunted at every step of my career by the fear that I am a fraud."

"I believe that women’s fear of fraudulence is similar to men’s, but with an added feature: not only do we tend to perseverate over our inadequacies, we also often denigrate our strengths."

After years of trial, error, and experience, Koven came upon a powerful realization:

Photo via iStock/illustration by Upworthy.

"I now understand that I should have spent less time worrying about being a fraud and more time appreciating about myself some of the things my patients appreciate most about me: my large inventory of jokes, my knack for knowing when to butt in and when to shut up, my hugs. Every clinician has her or his own personal armamentarium, as therapeutic as any drug.

My dear young colleague, you are not a fraud. You are a flawed and unique human being, with excellent training and an admirable sense of purpose. Your training and sense of purpose will serve you well. Your humanity will serve your patients even better."

For as long as there have been women in medicine — and the American workforce in general — they've faced exceptional challenges.

Wage gaps, sexism, underrepresentation in leadership roles, and internal "imposter syndrome" thoughts brought about by these systemic issues have made the simple act of working difficult for women in every position and every trade.

So while Koven wrote of her experience specifically in the medical field, it struck a chord with professionals outside the world of doctors. She's been absolutely stunned by the response so far, she writes in an email.

"What's fascinating is that though the piece is a 'Letter to a Young Female Physician,' it seems to have spoken to older physicians, male physicians, and even many non-physicians — and all around the world."

"This particular vulnerability, this fear of being a fraud," she says, "is widespread apparently."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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