Saturday, December 23, 2006

Are Surgeons Taller And Better Looking Than Other Doctors?


Is your family practice doc ugly? Is your surgeon hot? Is George Clooney better looking than both of them? Now you know why!!
Surgeons are taller and more handsome than physicians, finds a study in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

Doctors at the University of Barcelona Hospital noticed that the tallest and most handsome male students were more likely to go for surgery, and the shortest (and perhaps not so good looking) ones were more likely to become physicians.
Read more!

Trilla A, Aymerich M, Lacy AM, Bertran MJ (2006). Phenotypic differences between male physicians, surgeons and film stars: comparative study. BMJ 333:1291-1293.
Conclusions Male surgeons are taller and better looking than physicians, but film stars who play doctors on screen are better looking than both these groups of doctors. Whether these phenotypic differences are genetic or environmental is unclear.
Here's the Introduction in its entirety:
We finished our medical training at the University of Barcelona more than 25 years ago, and have enjoyed our work ever since. At medical school we noted certain differences between male trainees who selected either surgery or medicine as their specialty. The tallest and most handsome male students were more likely to go for surgery, and the shortest (and perhaps not so good looking) ones were more likely to become physicians (including doctors of internal medicine and its subspecialties).

Now, after all these years we hypothesise that, on average, surgeons are taller and better looking than physicians. We conducted a comparative study to test this hypothesis.
From the Results:
We did not make individual results public. However, widespread rumours, discussions, polls, and illegal bets arose throughout the institution as a by-product of our study. If they requested, participants were privately told about their personal score compared with the average score of the relevant group.

Sample of participants. Left, surgeon; middle, physician; right, control (George Clooney)

And in the Acknowledgments section:
Competing interests: AT is a physician and AML is a surgeon. AT and MA have been happily married for 25 years. MA's good looking score for AT was not requested to avoid any problems at home for Christmas.
The real question is, will Pedro Almodovar adapt this paper for the big screen?? It might be a bit of a stretch for him, since most of his recent films are about women...

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3 Comments:

At December 24, 2006 2:53 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

"In contrast, senior physicians are surrounded by fewer people in their habitat (the patient's bedside and the office), and they therefore have less need to be easily identified or spotted by families and nurses in the middle of a swarm. Physicians tend to hang heavy stethoscopes around their necks, which bows their heads forward and reduces their perceived height. They also complain of a (clearly abnormal) need to endlessly update their knowledge in accordance with the current evidence based approach to medicine by reading and studying heaps of medical journals; this overload of information further grinds them down."

 
At December 24, 2006 4:40 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Yes, it clearly is a joke article, but published for the Christmas issue instead of April Fool's Day!

While we're at it, let's examine this speculation:

How do surgeons become taller and better looking than physicians?
There are several potential explanations for the phenotypic changes between surgeons and physicians. Firstly, surgeons spend a lot of time in operating rooms, which are cleaner, cooler, and have a higher oxygen content than the average medical ward, where physicians spend most of their time. Furthermore, surgeons protect (but not always properly) their faces with surgical masks, a barrier to facial microtrauma, and perhaps an effective anti-ageing device (which deserves further testing). They often wear clog-type shoes, a confounding factor that adds 2-3 cm to their perceived height. The incidental finding that fewer surgeons are bald might be related to these environmental conditions and to the use of surgical caps.


I like the observation about clog-type shoes.

 
At March 20, 2008 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or is it just that there are surgeons and there are the internists. Just the type of people that are becoming to be surgeons are different. A joke for example:" Q: how do surgeons commit suicide? A: they climb on top of their ego and jump down on their IQ?" Could that explain it?

 

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