Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bigger Is Better Even In Medicine

A study out of the University of California has demonstrated that people think more highly of men who are taller and more physically fit. When shown pictures of men and women who were very buff, volunteers invariably stated that the more fit men had better leadership qualities and were smarter too. This perception only applied towards men, however. Physically fit women did not get the same perception of leadership.

You would think that this is a pretty primal way of interpreting somebody's leadership quality. Well educated physicians with over two decades of formal education wouldn't fall into this primitive trap of following the biggest male like a pack of wolves. Well you would be wrong. Even though we usually impart leadership in medicine on the usual cerebral traits such as intellectual curiosity, productive research, and clinical acumen, size doesn't hurt either.

I'll always remember one story that has been told in our department for years. One of our taller colleagues had just finished inducing his patient for surgery and sat down to start his paperwork. In walks the surgeon. He was relatively new to the hospital but he had already gained a reputation for arrogance and obnoxiousness.

He then stands over the anesthesiologist complaining about something or another, making a complete jerk of himself. Having none of that nonsense, my colleague then slowly straightens his legs and stands up, all six foot eight inches. He towers over the surgeon and asks, "Do you have a problem?" The surgeons gets real quiet and doesn't say anything else. The rest of the case he is as polite as he could be to the anesthesiologist. Needless to say he never worked with that anesthesiologist again.

Maybe Dr. Lundy was right. We anesthesiologists should all hit the gym and wear muscle shirts since surgeons rarely respect our intellectual superiority and frequently judge us by their primal instinct of following the biggest leader.


  1. I found that I was hassled a lot less than my much shorter female partners (I'm a 5'9" female). Or maybe it was just the look in my eyes when they started any crap!

  2. Thank you ZMD for this article. It gave me the laugh that I needed to carry on the day.