As many people as possible are needed to stop sexual harassment, which goes beyond Hollywood and the Beltway into the halls of medicine and elsewhere.
The senior psychiatry resident at the University of Washington School of Medicine warned me ahead of time. She laughed as she said, “He’s weird. You’ll get used to him.”
When I first met with him, the psychiatrist lazily spun in his chair, his left hand tucked into his pants, his thumb hanging out. After he told me his expectations as my supervisor, he patted my right thigh as he ended the meeting.
I spent one day a week training in his clinic. He often put his hand on my shoulder. If he sat near me, he extended his arm to pat my leg. When I sat far from him, he crowed compliments in front of patients and other staff: “Dr. Yang is one of the best residents who has ever worked with me!”
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He began to send emails to me at all hours of the day and night. They stopped referring to clinical research and developments; now he wrote of art, history and music that he thought I would enjoy. Some of the timestamps on his emails were near 2 a.m.
“Do as I say, don’t do as I do,” he chided in his emails. “Good night.”
My discomfort increased over time, though I wondered if I was overreacting. After all, didn’t another resident tell me that he was weird? She didn’t seem distressed with his behavior. Maybe I was too sensitive.
I asked two other supervisors, both psychiatrists, for advice. The male psychiatrist was angry and swift in his response: “You have to tell your residency director. This isn’t right.”
The female psychiatrist wavered. “I don’t know,” she said after a long pause. “It’s up to you if you want to say something. It could turn into a ‘he said, she said’ issue.”
She had a point: Who would believe a trainee over a tenured professor? Would he retaliate? How would this affect the rest of my training?
I decided to talk with him first. My request seemed reasonable: “Could you please…