Student on Leave After Claiming She Jabbed Patient Over Pronoun Pin

Roni Robbins

March 31, 2022

A student at Wake Forest University School of Medicine is on leave after apologizing for a tweet in which she bragged about unnecessarily sticking a patient twice while drawing blood.

In the post, which has since been deleted, the student said she did so to make a point about transgender rights. After a backlash on social media, the school told Medscape Medical News it followed all protocols and the student has apologized for the misleading tweet.

Kychelle Del Rosario, a fourth-year student at the North Carolina medical school, tweeted that she responded to a male patient joking about the "she/her" pronoun pin she was wearing by double jabbing his arm.


"I had a patient I was doing a blood draw on see my pronoun pin and loudly laugh to the staff 'She/Her? Well of course it is! What other pronouns even are there? It?' I missed his vein so he had to get stuck twice'," Del Rosario tweeted in the post that has since been removed. It was captured, though, by others on Twitter reacting harshly to the tweet.

When Del Rosario's controversial post was first brought to its attention, the medical school responded on Twitter: "This student's tweet does not reflect how Wake Forest University School of Medicine treats patients and provides patient care. We are taking measures to address this with the student."

Late Thursday, the medical school told Medscape Medical News its review of the social media post "revealed that the description of the patient encounter on social media does not reflect what actually occurred. We also determined that all of our procedures were followed while caring for this patient."

The school explained that all student actions are documented while treating patients and if students have an initial unsuccessful blood draw, a certified medical professional steps in. That's what happened in this case, the med school stated. "The student did not attempt to draw blood again."

In addition, the student apologized to the school "for her misguided post," and the school shared that apology, with her permission.

"I am writing this as an apology for a very irresponsible tweet that I sent on Twitter that I highly regret. For the event mentioned in the tweet, I was performing a blood draw on a patient, and during our conversation they had shown dismay at my pronoun pin. I calmly shared my thoughts about pronouns and did not escalate the situation further."

The student chalked up her unsuccessful blood draw to "my inexperience as a student," but explained that her supervisor performed the second successful draw. "During this encounter, I never intended to harm the patient. I understand how my misguided tweet read that I did intend to harm them as retribution."

She said the tweet was the result of "an emotional moment" in which she didn't consider the consequences. "I am truly sorry for poorly representing our school and our health system. I will reflect on responsible social media use as a professional and my duty to care for all patients, regardless of any differences in beliefs."

The med school concluded, "As a result of the inappropriate and misleading post, the student has been placed on a leave of absence."

The comments by Del Rosario, who is a trans rights activist, were in response to a post by illustrator and author Shirlene Obuobi, MD, about transphobia. Oboubi, who identifies as a cisgender woman, posted that she has worn a "she/her" badge for a year. "I wear it to help my patients & colleagues who fall under the trans umbrella feel a little more comfy. In the last few weeks, several cis patients have berated me for it."

Among the responses to Del Rosario's post, one tweeter commented: "This is offensive and disturbing. I am a nurse practitioner and this is a form of patient abuse."

Another tweeter posted: "It's concerning that a doctor feels that patients [whose] political stance they don't agree with deserve what they deem to be 'karma.'"

Still more tweets included: "We have all done things we regret, but being proud of them is frightening for future patients." Or as one tweeter opined: "Unprofessional, unethical & negligent."

According to Del Rosario's LinkedIn account, she is a graduate of the University of Virginia Class of 2017 in cognitive science with a neuroscience concentration and biology, is working in several general pediatrics clinics, and is "aspiring to become a medical doctor."

Last year, Del Rosario published an essay that appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal urging the US Senate to pass the Equality Act prohibiting discrimination based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

She stated in the essay, which also appeared on The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship website, that she was a leader in Safe Zone in Medicine, which is "run by healthcare trainees whose goal is to educate health professionals about the needs and disparities in LGBTQ+ healthcare."

Del Rosario further stated that the role prepares her "to become a trustworthy doctor and advocate for the transgender community — a population which the medical field has harmed greatly in the past. It also allows me to train other healthcare professionals who aim to improve their practice to be more welcoming and gender-affirming."

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