My three-year-old granddaughter is enamored with Doc McStuffins, an animated Disney Jr. TV show featuring a six-year-old African-American girl, Dottie, who wants to be a doctor like her mother. When “Doc” puts on her stethoscope the toys around her come to life, and she gives them check-ups and treats their illnesses (broken springs, missing stuffing, etc.) I’ve had some extended time with the grandkids this summer and must admit that I’ve also become a fan! One of the most intriguing things to me about the show is its potential to influence children’s paradigms about who can be a doctor.
Traditional Engendered Paradigms
Doctors have traditionally been thought of as unemotional, objective, authoritative, and paternalistic (the doctor knows best!). While these characteristics are more commonly associated with men, the old-school conditioning of medical school with its emphasis on the disease-centered “medical model” pretty much ensured that those who survived the experience came out with this style of practice, regardless of gender.
By contrast, nurses have traditionally been thought of as caring, subjective, subordinate in role, and maternalistic (let me fix your pillow!). While these characteristics are more commonly associated with women, the old-school conditioning of nursing school with its focus on the patient-centered “caring model” encouraged this style of practice, again, regardless of gender.