‘Doctors: You Can’t Assume Anything In This World Today’
“When I say I have a partner, don’t assume it’s a she…or a he. You should ask. You can’t assume anything in this world today.”
These are the words of Michael Onori, a medical actor and educator.
“I train across the healthcare community – including future doctors – on how to be empathetic and supportive across the board. We do simulated encounters with doctors for training purposes, which focus on proper exam techniques and ‘bedside manner.’”
Michael has been doing this work for 18 years. He’s at the point where he now teaches other actors how to be standardized patients. “We are so real at what we do,” Michael says. “These med students walk in into the room and in 10 seconds, they forget it was a simulated experience because it’s so good.”
Michael recalls a scene he would do called ‘Tom Sexton.’
“In that scenario, I’m there because I’ve been having penile discharge for five days and burning sensation. So, I talk to the doctor. I have my wedding band on. You know, I’m married. I have a daughter. And, so many doctors in that scenario make the assumption – the ass out of you and me kind of thing – that I’m happily married to a woman. I tell the doctor I had a one night stand. They automatically assume it was with a female prostitute. They never asked, they just assume, because I’m married and twirling my wedding band. In some of these cases I can give direct feedback to the doctor. It’s a good feedback point if they automatically assume it’s a she or a he, then I can talk to them about it…why did you automatically assume that it was a she or a he when I said that I was married?”
In addition to working as a medical educator, Michael is a lyricist and has taken his healthcare experience and put it into his art.
“I wrote a song called ‘We All Bleed the Same.’ The chorus goes: ‘We all bleed the same, no matter who we are. The color never changes, and neither does the scar. We need to change the labels that divide us by some name. To bring about equality because we all bleed the same.’”
Do you have a story? Find out how to share your experience and learn more about why #WeNeedAButton.