Do women throw themselves at ER doctors?
by Kevin Pezzi, MD
A writer wrote to me to gain a better understanding of how male ER doctors interact with women in their personal lives. For clarity, I will intersperse my replies between excerpts of her questions:
I'm a writer trying to do research for a character whom I want to be an ER doc. The story is not about the ER. His occupation is tangential, and he's not the main character. Just the love interest. I wanted him to be an adrenaline junkie and a good intellectual match for the main character. I also wanted to make him the type of person that rescues people—perhaps seeking people who need "rescuing" for his relationships. So I thought an ER doctor would work well. My writing group says there's no way he can be an ER doctor because he would not have enough time to do the other stuff I want him to do, such as being active in his church, taking care of his younger brother, etc.
Your writing group is wrong. In my career as an ER doctor, I can recall only one colleague who worked so much that he had little time for anything else. Most ER docs work about 35 to 40 hours per week for which they're paid, and put in another 15 hours (sometimes more) performing unpaid activities such as attending staff meetings, committee meetings, etc. I discuss this subject in detail on my www.ERbook.net site if you want to read more about it.
Do you know of any ER docs who do job sharing or work part time in order to reclaim some of their lives back?
Yes. I've done it, too.
Also, I wanted to make the doc a little nervous about speaking with women—he can't be perfect, after all. I was told by a nurse that doctors make life and death decisions all the time, and if they're cute, women throw themselves at them all the time, so they don't get nervous like that around women. To me, that sounds like over-generalizing.
It is. Doctors are not cast in the same personality mold; some are shy, some are average, and some are bold. Read my free Love & Lust in the ER book if you have any doubts about the latter. Or the former.
In regard to women throwing themselves at doctors … definitely yes. While writing Love & Lust in the ER, I thought of how many times that happened to me. Generally, those women ranged from attractive to drop-dead gorgeous, and some of what they did proves that fiction is never as interesting as reality. And the biggest surprise of them all? Well, read the book.
I have an oncologist cousin who married into the family and seemed very shy and nervous when I met him. Of course, he was meeting the whole family at the time, and he doesn't specialize in emergency medicine.
Judging from his reaction, you are probably an attractive woman.
Do some ER docs have problems with getting nervous when speaking to potential dates, or is it very rare?
Some do, and some don't. However, whether a doctor (or anyone else, for that matter) is nervous depends not just on him, but the person he is interacting with. Using myself as an example, I sometimes hit it off with some women and instantly feel comfortable with them, but I can also recall one who made me feel persistently uncomfortable.
Are there any other common character flaws they might have?
Historically, doctors have tended to be intense, monomaniacal perfectionists, but this constellation of personality characteristics seems to be waning now that the competitive pressure to get into medical school is dwindling.