Monday, November 9, 2020

Dear Figs:

 I still don't think you understand what you did. You can't -- because if you did, your apology would have rung a little more true. But we'll get to that (limp) apology another time. Let's talk about how I got here. 

I'm a resident physician in family medicine in my second year of residency. This means that I have earned an undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Science in biology here), a medical degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), and I've matched into a residency program that requires three years of training and passing a state board exam in my specialty before I can graduate and practice medicine as a board-certified licensed physician. In undergraduate training, I had to pass classes such as chemistry, physics, statistics, ecology, biosystematics, genetics, immunology, and physiology - to name a few. Then applying and gaining acceptance into medical school was no easy feat. Once accepted, one has to continue to study and learn about pharmacology, pathology, anatomy, physiology and more as they pertain to specific body systems and disease processes. Medical school is a marathon -- run at a sprinter's pace. Then there's The Match. I'm still traumatized from the match, so if you need to know what that's about, please just Google it, because I just can't spell out the terror of it here. It's the painful process of finding a training job for residency with computers deciding the outcome.

The thing about this ad that you guys at Figs don't understand? It only served to amplify all of the voices along the above journey -- sometimes my voice included -- that said I wasn't smart enough, or good enough, or MAN enough to accomplish my dreams. As a non-traditional (read: OLD) student starting back to school after 20 years of being out of high school, I already had a very loud inner voice telling me that it was very unlikely that I'd come out on the other end of this undertaking with a Dr. in front of my name. My advisor in college made sure to tell me that there was no way I'd make the grades needed to get into medical school. I had to get up every day and pep talk myself into working my butt off, AGAIN. Everyone around you tells you how lucky you are to be in medical school, and you wonder every second if you actually deserve it. Because everyone around you is extremely smart and hard-working with so many amazing accomplishments, and you can't help but compare yourself. I've heard that called imposter syndrome, and your ad feels like a mirror held up confirming that very idea. 

So let's look at this:

1. It's a young woman.
2. She's reading a Medical Terminology for Dummies book. Upside down.
3. She's got a prominently displayed DO badge.

How did this get past the powers-that-be? There are people who are paid to look at stuff like this, and go, "nuh-uh, no way." Where are these people? 

Let me count the ways this is a hot mess that could be nothing other than malicious. But let me also set some records straight.

We as women physicians -- specifically osteopathic physicians -- do not need another voice telling us we are not capable physicians. The hurdles that exist for women physicians are high and difficult, now more than ever. The current coronavirus pandemic is asking more from our healthcare force than ever before, and we are dedicated to using all of our resources to fight back and take care of our patients. There is a tremendous opportunity to join alongside and be a positive force, yet Figs chose to tear down rather than build up. This is why I will not be purchasing any products from this company going forward, neither will I wear any that I have in my possession currently. It saddens me greatly that every time I see these articles of clothing in my closet that all I can think about is this company thinks I'm a stupid woman with a sub-par medical degree. I cannot in good conscience wear something that makes me feel so less-than. Because I'm not. Ask my patients.

(Oh, and Rachel Maddow, you're on notice too. It takes about 5 seconds of research to avoid the Great Wrath of the AOA and a defamation lawsuit.)

Very sincerely yours,
DOCTOR Val Staples, DO

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