I’ve been blessed with The Curse of Looking Too Young.
Throughout college and medical school, it was not unusual for me to be mistaken for a teenager. In residency/fellowship, patients often looked at me and asked me if I was still a medical student doing some shadowing.
I used to get so offended: “How dare they question my authority? Don’t they realize all the hard work and how many years of training that I’ve been through?“. As time passes, I’ve been able to handle these assumptions with more wit and humor, sometimes I’ll joke and say that I am Doogie Howser or that I use An Ancient Secret Asian Anti-Aging Pearl Cream on a daily basis.
Most of the older patients chuckle and eventually accept me, but I know that “young-looking=not much experience” is a typical assumption that many people, including my own friends and family, often place upon those who have been afflicted with looking so baby-faced.
However, sometimes I am completely surprised. Yesterday, a patient in his 70’s, came to see me because he was upset by a television commercial that he had seen regarding one of his medications being associated with cancer. The patient claimed that his previous two doctors (also both in their mid-70’s) had been unfamiliar with this commercial or the medication effects.
“DINOSAURS! THEY ARE DINOSAURS!” He roared, “It’s time for a youth revolution! I’m on quest to find myself some fresh young new doctors!”
Now that I am noticing more and more grey hairs on myself, I am quite flattered by these comments. I better keep on using that Pearl Cream!