Saturday, March 10, 2018

Thank God I'm Not Married to Medicine

One side effect of having in excess of an entire month off is that I have had the opportunity to watch at least one TV program that I previously didn't know existed. Married to Medicine is a reality program on the Bravo network featuring  women who are MDs and women who are married to MDs or who are MDs married to MDs. A slight twist on the premise of the show is that all of the regulars on the show are African-American. 

I've been supervised by and have worked with African -American women who are doctors and nurses, and none of them conduct themselves as do the women on this program, at least at work. I'd be willing to bet a month's mortgage payment on the condo in which I reside (my parents, not I, make the payment) that they don't act that way when they're off the job, either.  The women on this program are only half a millimeter more civilized than the Real Wives of the various upscale communities, and most of these women have earned doctorates in medicine. Call me prejudiced (not racially in this case) but I expect more of medical doctors than what I have seen of these women. A few of them are merely married to doctors as opposed to being physicians themselves, but I would assume that even they have attained some post-high-school formal education. Maybe some of the women are osteopathic physicians. That's another of my prejudices; I hold osteopathic physicians to a lower standard than I hold MDs.

Doctors are not inherently perfect people. If the producers of a reality show came to me and asked me to help them locate  a given number of doctors who are unrefined, classless, and generally jerks, I wouldn't have any trouble accommodating the producers. I would be hard-pressed, however, even if I had access to my entire medical school community including all its students and professors, as well as every intern, resident, and attending physician working at any hospital affiliated with the medical school, to come up with six women of any race or creed who were as lacking in decorum as are the women featured on Married to Medicine. I would assume such is also the case with the spouses of those with  whom and under whom I work, though I don't know most of them well enough to state definitively that such is the case.

My guess is that participation in reality programs such as Married to Medicine is a highly lucrative second career. Money will persuade some people -- even ones whose level of education and presumed level of intelligence should exclude them from possession of the lack of judgment usually associated with agreeing to air one's shortcomings on TV.  Physicians are typically well-compensated enough that they wouldn't ordinarily be tempted by the lures offered by the production staffs of reality TV programs. Nonetheless, there are those among us for whom no salary is sufficient to support the lifestyle they have adopted.  Professional athletes are prime examples of this phenomenon. At least once a week I come across a hyper-linked story on present or past professional athletes who earned seven-figure salaries yet who are now either broke or bankrupt. 

While the incomes earned by most physicians are, at least in the short term, dwarfed by the incomes of professional athletes, the IQs of most professional athletes are, for the most part,  dwarfed by those who have successfully completed medical school. (Obviously not all professional athletes are of sub-average or even of average  intelligence. David Robinson of the U.S. Naval Academy and later of the NBA is often the first name to come to mind in any discussion of intelligent athletes. His son Corey is said to be similarly athletically and intellectually gifted.) While obviously not all professional athletes are dullards, and while there are obvious exceptions to this rule, the average college or professional athlete would not gain acceptance into an MD medical school program (perhaps many of them would be admitted to  osteopathic medical schools;I really don't know) if he or she were measured by the same standards as are other candidates for admission. 

It's conceivable that some or even most of those who agreed to participate in Married to Medicine did so because of financial difficulties and the need to moonlight for extra income.  I possess still another prejudice -- this one in terms of the intelligence, common sense, or self-control of anyone who cannot live comfortable on the salary typically  earned by a physician.  We all need to learn to live within our means. While I feel genuine  sympathy for those trying to remain financially solvent while working at minimum wage jobs, I don't feel all that sorry for doctors who cannot make ends meet. While sometimes divorce with its resulting family support/child support payments could cause a physician to have to scale back his or her lifestyle, a reasonable person can support a family on a physician's salary. In some cases with the Married to Medicine cast, they're living on not merely one but two physicians' salaries.  Even if  circumstances have caused a reduction in earnings of a doctor, the salary of a physician in the U.S. is still a living wage. Perhaps the physician's family can no longer afford a full-time house-keeper. Perhaps the number of and the expense of family vacations needs to be drastically cut, or maybe the number of restaurant meals a family eats needs to be reduced, and possibly an expensive home needs to be sold in favor of a more modest home in a more affordable area. Still, unless a physician's circumstances are highly unusual (perhaps a man fathered twenty children by eighteen different women and is required to provide financial support for all of them, or perhaps a woman married such a man; stupidity in regard to how one lives his or her life is not without consequences), adjustments can be made so that one can live with his or her spouse and/or family within one's means. It's feasible to make necessary adjustments to one's lifestyle in order to subsist on the fruits of one's labors rather than selling one's dignity in order to remain financially solvent.

Then again, perhaps it's not just money as a motivating factor where some of those featured in such reality programming are concerned. Among us are those who relish the prospect of celebrity for themselves even if the end result more closely resembles infamy than actual fame.  I don't understand it, and, for the most part, many of the people who have signed on for the lack of privacy that accompanies  participation in reality television probably don't fully comprehend just what it is that they're signing on for when they agree to allow their lives to be broadcast into living rooms across the nation.  I've yet to see anyone who has agreed to long-term participation in reality TV emerge unscathed. A very few families with large numbers of multiples allowed themselves and their offspring to be filmed for just a few segments, then took the money for whatever they needed it and went almost immediately back into obscurity. Those families appear to have beaten the system.  For the most part, however, if there's not something bizarre or at least highly quirky about at least one member of a family, the networks producing reality shows have no use for a family. Airing a person's or family's weirdness on national television isn't much more beneficial to the person's or family's overall well-being than airing the person's or family's soiled underwear would be.

With regard to  Married to Medicine, I take exception to the use of African-American physicians and their spouses in the program.  I should make it perfectly clear that I am in no way jealous or covetous of those who were selected to appear in this program, and no amount of money could persuade me to trade places with them. While presumably no one was compelled by any sort of force or extortion to participate in this project, I don't think it's a coincidence that African-American couples were chosen to participate in this program or these programs (there may have been a spin-off in a different location than the original; my schedule doesn't allow for me to follow any TV series, so I really don't know). Those of African-American heritage are often a bit more flamboyant or colorful (seriously, no pun was intended here) and perhaps more interesting than are their non-African-American counterparts. A reality show featuring my parents and their white and Asian physician acquaintances wouldn't hold the attention of many viewers for long. It seems almost as though Bravo scoured medical communities all over the nation for the loudest and most ostentatious physician families they could find.  It's probably not a coincidence that the couples chosen for this project have been African-American.  Those who participated are adults and as such legally entitled to make their own decisions regarding participation in such a project, but still, to me it reeks of exploitation.  

As a future physician, this program is an embarrassment to me. If I were an African-American prospective physician, it would be an even greater embarrassment to me.


  1. That show sounds like it would make me grind my teeth. Sounds dreadful!

    1. If I were African American, I would be offended by the degree to which networks love to give screen time to black people who act crazy. As a future physician I resent the provision of air time to people in the medical field who act like morons. I've trained under African American doctors and studied with African Americans, and none of them act out-of-control.

  2. I have only been able to stand watching a little "reality" TV. From what little I have seen it brings out the worst in humanity. As a human being I have found most of it to be offensive.

    1. In retrospect, the only classic reality show (things like court tV programming are, I have been told by someone who works in the industry, technically "reality TV," but I'm not considering them) I actually liked was the one with Ozzy Osbourne's family. It was probably just as phony and scripted as are all the others, but it was legitimately funny when Sharon Osbourne threw the ham in the neighbor's driveway and shouted something like, "This is a model of your wife's ass," then lamented with Ozzy in regard to how much they missed Pat Boone as a neighbor and how nice he was.