Skinny White Guys: Wear More Deodorant and Lay Off Those Video Games

This post is dedicated to Number One Son and his roommate Zack.


For some time now, the number of women entering the health professions has been on the rise. Most entering classes in schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, etc have been comprised of around 50% women for several years.

The latest indications are that women are starting to grab a slight majority of entering slots. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, women are really starting to rule the roost. A source there informed me recently that the 2008 entering class will be comprised of 80% women.

From the looks of the candidates who sat for my section of the National Board of Optometry Exam this past weekend in Birmingham, that 4:1 female to male ratio is already in effect. Of the twelve candidates whom I personally examined, ten were women. With the exception of one, all of them passed my section with flying colors. The two men that I evaluated did okay, but in general were less smooth and more nervous when they examined their practice patients.

They also sweated a lot more. Note to male doctors out there: wear more deodorant and don’t forget your breath mints.

Generalities from a small sample are always dangerous, but I think what I saw this past weekend may be a sign of things to come. Women are of course perfectly capable of becoming fine doctors (and have for years). They’ve learned that to get ahead in health care and other professions that they must do it “cleaner and better” than the guy standing across from them.

As a result, their undergraduate and professional school GPAs generally are higher and their performance on entry level tests such as the National Board of Optometry Exam a step above their male counterparts. At least that’s been my observation over the past few years as both an examiner for the National Board and an adjunct associate professor at UAB.

So, is this a bad thing? Well, for the profession, the patients and the women who are enjoying the rewards of healing others and getting paid well to do it–hardly.

If you’re a skinny white guy? Maybe.

But if you’re a pale male, before you cry foul, maybe you ought to consider not only using more deodorant and breath mints, but laying off the video games too.

Don’t look now skinny white guys, but suddenly you’re the ones who must do it “cleaner and better.” Saving the world from aliens in Halo and nailing a riff on Guitar Hero are all well and good, but those particular skills aren’t going to get you past me on National Board day.

  1. Mike the Eyeguy

    In all fairness to Number One Son and Zack, I think they’re both making good grades this year, despite the 2:00 AM Guitar Hero jam sessions.

    Still, save those finger and wrists for surgery, okay?

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Yeah, yeah I know. There’s stuff like this too.

  3. JRB

    Girls rule.

    I have to be careful out here in cyberland, but I have witnessed quite the same phenomenon in this professional school. The women dominate, by and large, but the guys still are getting the jobs. I chalk that up to some residual patriarchy in the Deep South Bar Association.

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    In our profession, it still tends to be the guys who enter traditional private practice more than the ladies. That may be because men are more prone to opt for “risky” behaviors like running a business and because more women are looking for the flexibility of employment and part-time hours.

    With women increasing in numbers in our profession, that trend has caused some national optometry leaders to worry that private practice will eventually wane and disappear. I don’t know about that, but private practice as we know it sure is changing.

    A different optometry school recently hired a consulting firm to assist in their interviewing. They have committed to selecting at least half their entering class each year based on personality characteristics such as risk taking, leadership potential and entrepreneurial bent in addition to GPA and test scores.

  5. doublevision

    It will be interesting to see. I think private practitioners will move more toward groups like the opthalmological community to survive. We have converted our two Horner Rausch’s to Eyecare Plus and expanded to 6 locations. It may be the lack of risk takers-could be the lack of buying power of the solo dr and the dilution of fees that may be influencing the risk taking as well as the sex

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    I went to your website, DV. I then clicked on your bio and thought, man, DV sure does look different than what I remember him…

    Then I clicked on the other doctor’s bios and I realized that you all look the same.

    Dude, get some real pics up there instead of those stock photos!

    I also noticed that you don’t have any women in your practice. Hmmm….

  7. doublevision

    Trouble with webmaster. Got a relative who has slacked on his job. We are trying to change it but having trouble. You know that story. The old relative who can save you money but costs you time. Better to forget the relatives.

    And that is my picture-I am better looking than you remember. Plastic surgery in Brazil can do wonders. As for the other docs, they went to Brazil, because they wanted to be like me. Pretty good I think.

    We are currently hiring a female new grad to replace a doc leaving for solo practice. Actually having two male docs leave for solo practice which supports your thoughts.

    I have had 6 female docs work with me over 18 years. 2 of the 6 are now in solo practice. The percentage of men leaving for solo is about the same.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the school that is evaluating risk takers. We need more COWBOYS and COWGIRLS.

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    Eighteen years? Geez Louise, you had to go remind me of that.

    You probably know this, but that school is your school. Here’s to more Cowgirls! Forget the Cowboys.

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