Monday, August 21, 2017

Woman docs

It seems like I can't book an appointment with a doctor anymore without being asked if I'm okay with seeing a man.

OK, they didn't ask me when I booked an eye doctor appointment.  But when I recently scheduled an urgent care visit for a stomach bug that was taking a long time to clear up, they asked me.  And the OB/GYN office always asks.

Personally, my first pap was done by a man, and I really liked him.  My second regular ob/gyn was also a man and also great.  Yes, I'm a little more uncomfortable being examined down there by a man, but honestly, it's uncomfortable either way.  It depends on the doctor more than it depends on the gender of the doctor.  It's only a recent thing that there are enough female doctors that patients can even get a choice.

What bothers is me is that when they specifically ask me, it makes me feel like maybe I *should* request a woman.  Why can't they just mention the doctor's name and see if I protest?

Also, has a man *ever* been asked if he was okay with the gender of his doctor?

At work, I have also been put in positions from time to time where I was pressured to see a patient for no other reason than they had "woman problems," when I believed another doctor was better trained to treat their issues.  I'd have no problem with it if the woman had specifically requested a female physician, but that was never the case.  It was always decided that "she'd probably prefer a woman."  Sometimes I feel embarrassed to march in, knowing that I'm only there because of my XX chromosomes.


  1. I totally agree with you. When I had time to research my doctors, I always chose the best qualified (and based on friends recommendations), gender did not enter into it. When an intimate exam is necessary, they almost always have a female nurse with them in the room anyways (to cover themselves more than me, I am sure!). When I have an urgent issue, well it is urgent and I'll take who I can get, so again gender doesn't enter into it.

  2. I'm not a doctor, but will note that the family practice we use doesn't even have male doctors. The last time a male doctor was an option was a specialist, about 10 years ago. He was involved for 3 visits, then transferred me to his female NP. Based on what you're saying, I think I've been floating in a local experience bubble-- around here, first-line medicine seems to be very female-dominated.

  3. I'm male and was asked if I was OK with a female internist when my doctor left the practice to go concierge. My male alternative was a family medicine doc 2 years out of residency until I made a fuss, and I was allowed to move over to a senior male IM doc.

    My take on it is that I'm more than happy to see female docs (and see a number of very good female specialists for different things), but all things being equal, I'm more comfortable getting my yearly rectal from a guy.

    Then again, now that I'm looking at what I just typed, maybe I've had it all wrong, because my doc has big hands...

  4. My GP is a woman, my ortho is a man, my urologist is a man, and I have had one of each for dermatology. I'm fine with all of them. If I had a woman urologist it wouldn't matter as long as she was a good doc and a decent human being. It's the best a patient can hope for.

  5. My mother set up my first GYN exam when I was 16. She thought I would be more comfortable with a woman. That was until I saw her very long red nails. I have mostly had male docs or female NPs for paps since. I always look at their hands.

  6. There are so many women with history of sexual assault. This is why this happens. It's hard for women to get their private parts - hell even a mole check - by a man with this shadow.

  7. The name doesn't always help--my current on-gym NP is named Ryan and she is lovely, and I work with two NPs at work who are both women, named Tristan and Taylor.

    I do think it is very important for the appointment scheduler to ascertain if the person booking the appointment is comfortable with the gender of the person who will be doing their exam. So much assault (whether sexual or otherwise) is rampant nowadays, I find it is easier to give the choice than to try and fix it afterwards when the PTSD has set in.

  8. I know a lot of women are abused, but if we know this is an issue, can't we simply request a female physician ourselves rather than having to be asked? We are not helpless.

    The name might not give away the gender, but the person scheduling can/should clarify if there is any doubt.

    I just feel like there are so many characteristics to a doctor, the least of which is gender. It's a different situation if a woman was abused, but for everyone else, I don't think the first thing we look at when choosing a doctor should be the gender.

    1. I don't think there is any actual problem here, most people have no preference with regard to gender and the few who do have legitimate personal reasons. I don't think people are judging doctors based on gender.

      Why put the burden on people who have been abused who may not feel comfortable bringing it up? I don't understand why you'd take offense to the question; if you don't have a preference then just say so.

    2. You don't have to tell the clinician your entire history of abuse. All you have to say is that you would prefer a female or male doc.

      My problem with it, as I said above in my post, is it puts people in a position where they are choosing their physician based on gender alone, even if that person isn't the most qualified. Like I said, I was assigned patients that I was less qualified to see than the other doctor simply because I'm a woman. It just seems wrong and in nobody's best interest. Also, it means that there are fewer female physicians available with appointments for somebody who truly does have a history of abuse and needs a female physician.

  9. I"m a nurse practitioner who works in urgent care. Much of what we do is STD screening. I tend to take the female patients, and the male providers take the male patients, because we also take about safer sex, I screen for domestic violence, etc. But honestly, I kinda freak out when a guy requests a woman! --Melissa, FNP-C

  10. Have had this experience so many times. I'm GI! "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"
    Great blog!
    I just started mine, take a look.

  11. The substitute-another-characteristic test: Would it be OK to ask whether you'd prefer a doctor of a particular skin colour? Religion? BMI? Sexual orientation? No. I'm with you.

  12. The practice I attend lists everyone as male or female on the online booking system (other things, like additional languages are also included).
    Besides history of abuse doesn't always mean you prefer a doctor of the same sex.

  13. This was probably based on the experience of their practice. I am a man but I have heard many women say that they feel more comfortable with a female gynecologist and that they would never choose a male. Gynecology involves a socially and emotionally sensitive part of the human body and some people have preferences which are quite understandable. I also think it is a good idea to ask men if they would be OK with a female urologist. Personally, I would prefer a man. Of course, I would look up the person online first. I do not think I would take a blind referral. In an emergency I don't need a choice but for elective issues I want one and the sex (or at least the ostensible gender) of the doctor is one that many people, myself included, want to consider.