I earned the nickname “Fancy Lady Doctor” in medical school, even before getting the official MD letters behind my name in 2001.
Despite being tongue-in-cheek at its core, the concept of the Fancy Lady Doctor – or FLD – resonated with my classmates.
Several of them started developing their own mini-groups of FLDs in residency programs across the country, but nowhere did it take off like in my own OBGYN residency program at the University of Colorado.
Friends, they still give out a “Fancy Lady Doctor” award at the annual end of the year residency banquet. I die with pride!
When I attended medical school in the late 1990s, there were a few attending physicians who qualified as FLDs, but not many. Ditto residency.
Don’t get me wrong, there were countless wonderful, smart and kind women who educated me, but not many were wearing heels in the OR at 3 A.M.
I have done this.
The culture of medicine has changed since then, too. More women than ever are entering medicine, and now that we are more than half of medical students – and emerging physicians – we can own the space in a way that our foresisters could not. I recognize the debt.
Back to the FLD scarcity in my training: This all changed when I was a third year resident and attended the 2003 annual meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, known as ASRM.
In the fertility world, the ASRM meeting is a big deal. Nearly 10,000 fertility professionals – doctors, nurses, embryologists, psychologists, scientists and more – meet to learn about cutting edge research and new techniques, tools or devices. There are opportunities to connect with old friends and colleagues, as well as industry leaders.
And there are parties.
Some of this has changed since my inaugural ASRM (it’s toned down a lot), but back then, I was blown away.
Everywhere I turned there was someone with near rock-star status in our field, walking around like a mere mortal. There were parties every night with multiple live bands, cocktails and embarrassingly extravagant displays of sushi. One party had enough jumbo shrimp and lobster tails to fill a bathtub.
And there were many, many FLDs.
Not only were these women smart, well-spoken and professionally accomplished, they looked great. They wore suits or dresses that fit perfectly. They had designer – real designer – shoes and bags. No knock-offs here. They had rings with diamonds large enough to choke a horse.
I had found my tribe.
Fast forward to now: Last week marked the 75th ASRM meeting in Philadelphia, PA. I went.
One day I wore these:
And I was delighted to connect with a whole new generation of FLDs in my field.
While it’s a surprising position to discover I’ve aged enough that a whole generation has come up behind me – How did I get here? – I really, really like these women.
It makes me happy for the future of our speciality and for women physicians in general.
And, so, a final message to my younger FLD colleagues: Keep it going.
Be amazing physicians.
And remember: diamonds are always the perfect accessory.
Especially with scrubs.