Is the medical profession conservative--and why?

So I have this friend who was telling me about some of her friends who are doctors back in her home country of Australia. One of them has bright pink hair. Apparently there is nothing out of the ordinary there–it hasn't been an issue for her professionally. Based on some other things she was telling me, I get the impression that the medical profession is a lot less conservative there than it is here. I don't want to overgeneralize, and I could be completely wrong here, but I get the sense that the same thing is true in Europe as well–at least judging from my three or four friends who are medical students in different European countries. And I know that in a lot of countries, medicine is just one more course of study at the university–it doesn't have the whole dramatic application ritual surrounding it like it does here. It isn't as expensive either, and the salaries for doctors aren't as high. Personally, those things really appeal to me!
So anyway, I am just wondering, what do people think about this aspect of the profession? Now, I am not planning to saunter into any interviews with flaming pink hair–but it does kind of bug me that the medical field seems to be so conservative in the US. I mean, from the obligatory blue interview suit to the grueling resident work hours–so much of what we know as medicine in this country is cultural, and unique to our system here in the US. I've thought a lot about applying to overseas medical schools just for this reason. Has anyone else here ever felt that way? Does anyone have stories about medicine in other countries or here in the US that relate to this subject?
Anyway, this has been on my mind so I just thought I'd bring it up.

Hmm…I’ll be interested to see what people say about this. I don’t know anything about medicine in other countries. (Actually, I don’t know much of anything period but this never stops me from responding to posts!) But, it does seem like you have to jump through an awful lot of hoops here in the U.S. to become a doctor. I have travelled in Europe, and I’ve also been to Costa Rica and El Salvador. In general, I think many European countries are more liberal than the U.S. in many aspects of life so it probably applies to medicine as well. For example, I think European countries (in general) are much more tolerant of certain things, such as homosexuality, drug use, etc. (Well, The Netherlands is anyways tongue.gif). The French kiss each other on both cheeks as a greeting, people of the same sex routinely hold hands/hug each other in public (and this does not necessarily mean they are gay or lesbian, which we would assume here), prostitution is legal in some countries, nudity is not such a big deal in movies/television, etc.

I remember when I visited Lithuania during high school that the mother in my host family was a doctor. Unfortunately she didn’t speak English, so I couldn’t talk to her much about it, but her daughter (my host) told me that over there being a doctor did not have the prestige that it does here. There it is just another profession, like being a plumber or a salesman or whatever. I remember finding that very interesting.
However, the year before when our Lithuanian friends had come to visit us, we had taken a few of them on a tour of our local hospital (middle of NH, just your typical local hospital, nothing special) and a few of the women broke down in tears when they saw the wards, labs, etc. Everything was so clean, new, technologically advanced compared to what they had. What a humbling experience. So I guess their view of doctors or medicine in general was probably slightly colored by the lack of resources. Of course, at the time they were only a few years removed from the breakup of the USSR, so it’s not entirely reflective of European medicine in general, just my own experience.
As for the US conservative notions… well, I can see both sides. My first work experience was at a McDonald’s and we were not allowed to have visible piercings (except ears), tatoos, etc. Even as a teenager I realized that, right or wrong, your appearance can do a lot for your customer’s impression of you, whether you’re handing them a burger or performing open heart surgery. If we want to create a positive first impression, appearance is a huge part of that. On the flip side, I’ve been considering getting my nose pierced for a few years. Nothing scary, just a small stud. Even my managing director of my ultra-conservative company has said, “sure, go ahead, I think they look nice”, but I wonder about whether I’d even be able to wear it two or three years from now. That and my parents would not be pleased… but that’s a different story. biggrin.gif

Actually, I think that physicians in Europe are also conservative. I grew up in Spain so I am talking from experiene. Also, medicine in Europe starts younger! they start medical school (at least in Spain) right after high school, and not all individuals can go to medical school. There is a very very difficult exam after HS in Spain (no multiple choice answers…) that determines (depending on your score) what degree you are ALLOWED to complete so beware the grass is not greener across the fence…

I don’t know about medicine specifically - but I’ve worked as an IS (information systems) consultant and as a result have been in many many different businesses - and for the most part, pink hair would be considered unusual and would be an issue - not at dot-com’s maybe, but at banks, insurance companies, utilities, state gov’t, local gov’t, accouting firms, service organizations, mortgage brokers, universities, etc.
I think medicine “norms” seem to be inline with conventional business “norms” - at least here in the western US

Medicine is a relatively conservative profession in Europe I think also. Australia may be a bit of an exception - I work with a lot of Australians (not only MDs) and they all tend to be more casual in their dress.
But maybe Europe is less conservative in general than the states in some social aspects.

You are probably correct that most university education in Europe is cheaper for the students -I think some countries have no tuition fees for university training (for citizens anyway- not foreigners) and some also give living subsidies - but this may be starting to change.
Physicians salaries are probably lower than in the US. Especially for countries with nationalized medicine- definitely true for the UK. Someone told me the other day that vets make more than medics in the UK because they are private)
One of the biggest differences seems to the working hours issue. Alot of countries are going through the same debate as the US about limiting junior doctors' (residents) hours, but whereas in the US the debate is about limiting to a 80 hour week, here it seems to be about limiting hours to a 55 hour (or less) week. I think they make up for this by extending the length of training. But they are paid more as junior doctors than us residents I think so it's not such a problem. I wish the US would adopt this approach.
I live in Europe and work with physicians from all over the world through my job so I could probably pull up lots of anecdotes about this and other US/exUS topics. But I've gone on too long already…

Where in Europe do you live? Did you go to medical school in Europe? I’m really interested in the working hours issue too. I guess I just like the idea of being able to have both a personal and a professional life.
I’m not really too concerned with the pink hair business. It wouldn’t look very good on me for one thing! (I’m leaning more towards blue, actually). But I do think there’s a lot of jumping through hoops that us premeds are forced to do. Also, medicine is pretty different from banking. I mean, I can’t imagine myself working at a desk all day, or thinking about profits all the time… I CAN understand needing to be professional and inspire confidence in patients though, and THEY might find the pink hair wierd.
I know about that Spanish exam! smile.gif And it’s hard from what I hear… One of my friends is a med student from Madrid. She moved to Copenhagen to live with her boyfriend, and the Danish medical school let her transfer right in. I just don’t think you could do that very easily (if at all) in the States. But yeah, there are tradeoffs. Here in the US I think it might be easier to change careers later in life, since we aren’t bound by exam results that we get when we’re 15 or thereabouts.