Jeremy Samuel Faust wrote an article entitled, “What Is Your Name? Where Are We? Who Is President? Oh God.” Regarding his experiences performing the mental status exam today, published in February 2017. He describes the spectrum of emotions that he has witnessed in people who have just discovered the name of the leader of the free world for the first time. He describes well the spectrum of denial, shock, anger, acceptance; Kubler-Ross would have been proud.
Similar to Dr. Faust, I’ve made a bit of a hobby of the answers to these questions. Throughout my emergency medicine residency training in Detroit, even if a patient was unsure of the year, the location, their age, they would say with pride, “Obama!” when asked, “who is the president?”
The world has shifted and I’ve received an answer that has challenged me as a professional during this current administration. While some people roll their eyes and say, “Oh, that pervert,” (which I count as correct), or the very demented say, shocked, “you’re kidding.” I had to check myself after a man with a round southern drawl said, “my man, Trump.”
This hit me hard. To me, implicit in supporting Trump is the belief in judgment of people of color and immigrants, as well as a disregard for women and LGBTQ people. There I was, a female physician, believing that my patient would disregard and disrespect everything that I hold sacred.
Usually, judgment isn’t an issue for me. Bring me any cocaine addicted pregnant mother of three, any perpetrator of violent crime, any addict. There is warmth in my heart. There are no excuses for their behavior, but there is a humanization of them to me. But supporting Trump? How can I provide care when this is a rather close and emotional topic?
I was judging him harshly. I didn’t know him. I was perpetrating the very same righteousness and judgment of which I accuse Trump supporters. My transference was strong. I tried to acknowledge the love he showed his family. I tried to respect his freedom of speech, to acknowledge how kind he seemed, to focus on the seemingly close-knit family he had created. As I sat down to write my note, I tried to think of what life experiences brought him to this place, something redeemable. But that red “Make America Great Again” hat practically glowed; it was like a Matador flag for me.
I literally took a “time out” right before I stepped into his room each time. Outlining what I would say, what I would not say. Shocked at my own intolerance.
This must be what becoming a professional feels like – knowing what my biases are, acknowledging them, and moving beyond them. It’s a work in progress.