These words, spoken by Dr. Gabrielle McMullin, a vascular surgeon in Australia, refer to a recent case wherein a female surgical resident won a case against a surgeon accused of sexually assaulting her in the Melbourne hospital where they both worked. Ironically, winning this workplace harassment lawsuit has made it impossible for the surgical resident, Caroline Tan, to find a job. In the surgical profession, speaking up against assault has resulted in Tan being labeled not as a victim or a brave woman who spoke up, but as a troublemaker.
There is another reason wellness is now stressed so heavily in medical schools, and it is one that is not often talked about — physician suicides. As many as 400 physicians commit suicide each year. That is equivalent to four medical school classes who take their lives every single year.
“Hello there,” I thought upon meeting my first patient in medical school. I did not get a response. Not that I was expecting one; my first patient was, as are most medical students’ first patients, a cadaver. She was draped with a bed sheet. Even when we began making the first cuts on her back, we kept her covered from the waist down.
Guantanamo Bay. Abu Ghraib. Americans have long been aware that our government participates in torture. What Americans may not be so readily aware of, however, is physician involvement in torture, an issue that came to light in the CIA report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on December 9, 2014. The report made headlines worldwide, prompting world leaders to denounce the CIA’s actions and triggering organizations such as the ACLU to call for a full investigation of violations of human rights.