Beauty, brains - or both?
When Leah Totton won this year's series of The Apprentice, I was pleased to see an attractive young doctor had proven herself as intuitively smart and savvy.
Although I hadn't supported Leah's business proposal of a chain of one-stop Botox® clinics, I admired her nerve to enter the competition alongside accomplished businessmen and women, having no formal business experience of her own.
Taking to Twitter after her win, though, I saw a completely different story: my timeline was filled with people branding the blonde-haired and immaculately made-up Leah as a 'bimbo,' 'Barbie doll,' and even 'not a real doctor' … and the worst part? A lot of it seemed to be coming from doctors.
Although I haven't experienced quite the same level of criticism as Leah, I've had my share of judgmental, vicious comments about my appearance from some clinicians.
When I'm not slaving away over connective tissue diseases and the likes, I spend my free time writing a beauty blog … and it's something I'm very proud of. It's a total escape from medicine, and, naturally, elements of it extend into everyday life - I style my hair and apply makeup, all the while complying with NHS rules: hair tied back, and steering clear of garish lipsticks and eyeshadows.
When it comes to clothing, I stick with hospital dress code: bare below the elbows and never anything short or low-cut … I'm the first to admit I am lucky to own some lovely clothes, but they're never inappropriate for the clinical environment.
I pride myself on my appearance, something I feel many medical students neglect - I've watched in horror as fellow medics turn up to hospital wards in underwear-baring see-through blouses, jeans, unpolished shoes, and uncombed hair.
So imagine my surprise, when, on numerous occasions this year, I have been taken aside and spoken to about 'the way I present myself', with specific reference to the way patients will (apparently) take exception to my 'look'. Interestingly, these comments have come from young, female doctors, who, in my opinion, perhaps take little to no time making themselves look the part for what I consider is appropriate as a young professional.
In reality, no patient has ever made a negative comment regarding my appearance - quite the contrary, actually! I'm often mistaken for a junior doctor and have even had the odd consultant stop me in the hospital to tell me how well I present myself.
We are constantly told not to judge our patients for what they say, how they act and how they look - so why do some doctors I've encountered find it so difficult to extend this courtesy to their colleagues?
The views expressed in this article reflect Ambi's personal opinion and are not representative of those of patient.info or the University of Bristol.
Ambi's beauty blog - www.bombayrose.co.uk
Follow Ambi on twitter - @Bombay_Rose