Neutralizing differences: producing neutral doctors for (almost) neutral patients

Soc Sci Med. 2000 Oct;51(8):1253-65. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00043-5.


Today 50% of medical students in Canada are women; they come from a wide range of racial, cultural, academic, and class backgrounds; they may openly identify as gay or lesbian. Yet to the extent that professional socialization produces uniformity of values, attitudes and future practice styles, the impact of increasing diversity is lessened. Based on a survey with undergraduate medical students, interviews with 25 students, and interviews with 23 faculty members and administrators at one Canadian medical school, this paper argues that there are impetuses within believe that the social class, 'race', ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation of a physician is not--and should not be--relevant during physician patient interactions. In short, intentional and unintentional homogenizing influences in their training work to neutralize the impact of increasing social differences among medical students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Women
  • Religion
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students, Medical / psychology*