I work in a teaching hospital, so I am used to how young medical students, psych interns, and student nurses look. There is quite a bit of variation, of course. The student nurses are a group who are clearly concerned with looking sophisticated, which keeps them off the ridiculously young-looking end of the scale, but some 25 year-old medical students can look much younger. They are drawn from that subset of focused students who actually went to college to study, not impress their peers, which keeps a certain naivete in their countenance.
People make their share of Doogie Howser jokes, and lots of older people have discomfort with having a doctor so young asking them personal questions. It’s never bothered me much, neither here nor at my own doctor’s where I get an ARNP as often as not. Also, though my daughter-in-law’s age froze in appearance at 14 for about 6 years before resuming its normal course, she has always shown remarkable self-possession. Her courtship with my son only had that disquietingly Appalachian look at a distance or in photographs. She didn’t seem that young in conversation.
So I’m used to this. Really. I am used to medical students or second-year interns, male and female, looking 16.
But 10 years old is pushing it. The new med student looks like she’s going to come back in her jammies and ask me to read her a story. Her voice sounds like that, too. I can’t decide if I’m in a science fiction movie or a sitcom.