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Interview with Dr. Nisha George

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

1. What has your experience been like as a woman in healthcare?

My experience has been rewarding, and I feel like as a woman in healthcare I have been

entrusted with this great role that requires the understanding of human emotions. As a

mother, I have grown in compassion, and am able to use the same spirit of nurturing

care with my kids to also take care of my patients. Also, as a daughter, I am able to liken

treating older patients to how I would treat my parents or other older members of my

family. Overall, I have found that these certain traits and qualities that define my

identity as a woman have helped me in my work, and aided with the strong

patient-provider relationships that I seek to create.


2. Have you ever felt like you have been treated differently because you are a woman?

Not by everyone, but there have certainly been isolated incidences of different

treatment. Oftentimes, I might find that I might be assigned more patients to look at

for a day than my male counterparts. I think this stems from a pervasive negative idea

held by some that women in healthcare won’t ask why, and will just accept everything

blatantly. And what’s shocking is that this mentality can often extend to those higher in

command, such as chiefs, or department heads. However, I don’t think this a

system-wide mentality, but rather, one held by a select few. In regards to patients, I

think the same principle applies: it is on a case-by-case basis. In my experience, I have

encountered certain patients who have made misogynistic remarks or questioned my

performance. However, I find it important to remind myself that their behavior stems

from their perspective and viewpoints on women and that it has nothing to do with me

and my abilities. A patient who might try to bully me based on the fact that I am a

woman might act so because of certain beliefs they have, but I am not here to fight back

against any patient. My goal is to still try to help them, with the hope that by showing

compassion through my care I might aid in reversing any preconceived notions or

biases the patient might have against me as a woman.


3. Talk about your experience as a first-generation immigrant in healthcare.

It definitely did not start out easy. When I first moved here, I essentially landed in an

entirely new country with my husband and kids. I think the hardest part about that

whole experience was not having a lot of familial support. Leaving all my family behind

in India to pursue a better life was motivational, but was definitely a struggle, and

resulted in not having the kind of support I needed. Working full-time was very

draining, but on top of that, I would have to come home after long shifts and have a lot

of duties around the house, such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids, etc. I also

think there was a lack of societal support. I was kind of struck in the face by the very

individualistic manner in which American society seems to operate. It was

disheartening at first since it felt like I was expected to know how everything worked

and have everything put together, which was almost impossible in a brand-new

country. But there were definitely a lot of specific individuals who helped in their own meaningful ways to get me on my feet, and for whom I am immensely grateful. Now,

it’s almost nostalgic to think back to where I was 22 years ago when I first came here. It

makes me proud, to look back on everything I have achieved career-wise, and how that

has enabled my kids to be set up on a path of success in this country.


4. Have you ever felt like you have been treated differently as a first-generation

immigrant?

For the most part, no. I have found that most people have welcomed me and treated me

with respect. But of course, there have definitely been isolated incidents where I have

been treated differently. I have encountered patients who might make remarks about

the accent I have when I speak English. I can remember a specific instance I had with a

patient, where as soon as I walked into the room, he said “Why are you here? I want an

American doctor” and then he requested someone else to take care of him. That

particular experience was painful at first since it felt like this patient had made a snap

judgment about my abilities solely based on the color of my skin. But I never took it to

heart, and honestly found it quite funny he said that since I was just as much of an

American as he was. So no, for the majority of the time I have not been treated

differently, but there have certainly been a few encounters of that nature. I always try

not to take things like that to affect me, since distorted thinking like that is far from

true, and honestly says more about the person saying them than it does about my

abilities in any way.


5. Does your identity as a first-generation immigrant and as a woman tie together in any

way?

I think they both definitely combine to aid me in providing better care for my patients.

Based on my upbringing, I have learned a lot about the importance of hard work and

drive, allowing me not to be afraid to take on challenges or navigate stressful

environments. Additionally, the culture I grew up in places a strong emphasis on caring

for sick and elderly people, which has prepared me to treat my patients through an

empathetic lens. I have also learned not to view aging as a bad thing, but rather as a

natural thing, and to be nurturing to any older patients I encounter, providing them

with comfortable care. As I mentioned earlier, the traits that define me as a woman do

not hinder my performance or abilities in any way, but rather, they enhance them and

help me to be as effective and caring as a provider as I can be for my patients. They also

help in my mission to treat each patient holistically, treating the entire person and

basing my care on understanding their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual

well-being.

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