Gay doctors

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    Aug 04, 2008 4:09 AM GMT
    So, I graduate in December as a doctor of chiropractic, and I've been wrestling with the idea of what to do in terms of my sexuality and dealing with patients. It started when I got my first student patient, and he accidentally sent me a text that was meant for his friend that said, "Don't worry about it. My intern is super gay."

    I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, but I ended up transferring his care to another intern because I didn't want a relationship where I wasn't respected. Also, due to the extremely physical nature of chiropractic care, I'm not sure I'd have felt comfortable being that close to him.

    Are there any other docs out there who have advice on what they do with patients when something like this happens, or when they get the wife and girlfriend questions?
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    Aug 04, 2008 11:57 AM GMT
    First off, congratulations!

    I'm a resident, and not a staffman yet, but you'll run into this kind of crap sometimes. I haven't really run into it much, but I went through a period where I wasn't sure what to do either. It's good that you're thinking about it before it crops up again.

    I think most gay doctors have to come to terms with some "identity" issues, the most common (but perhaps the least important) one being, "Do I want to be a doctor who happens to be gay, or a gay man who happens to be a doctor?"

    Certainly, you will find that as word gets around, that you will likely have no shortage of gay patients--let's face it, gay men will be more comfortable coming to you. The fact that you're good-looking only makes it easier icon_smile.gif

    I have run into one instance where a patient (in the emergency room) expressed his distaste for asians (and not on a romantic gay level, ha ha) to me. I gave him the option of being assessed or not being assessed. I did tell my attending about it and my attending did not offer him another resident, nor did he step into the care role any more than he would have otherwise. The patient was free to go to another clinic, or another hospital, but they don't get to pick and choose--not in the emergency department anyways. The same goes for women who ask for a female doctor (unless it's a sexual assault). I think I would take the same "zero tolerance" stance on being bi.

    From my standpoint, my personal life isn't really my patient's business; and it certainly does not affect their care. Patients often strike up idle chit chat during physical exams and that's fine. They don't usually ask me that much about my personal life. I usually get the wife/girlfriend questions from the nurses and staff that I work with. Most patients don't ask. Some people have gone so far as to ask if I have a partner, which I've thought was very nice.

    I made the decision that when it comes to co-workers, I don't mind being out. I'll answer, "No, I don't have a girlfriend, or boyfriend, it's just me." In some ways, it's easier to just take on the gay label, because people, on a casual, or even co-worker level, can't get around the "bisexual" label. But that's a whole other kettle of fish.

    The reality is that when you're done, you're it icon_smile.gif. People can either choose to have their care from you, or someone else. I've been lucky to see how other guys do it here though--there are a few openly gay residents in upper years (though, they're partnered, which, I think, makes things easier).

    When it comes down to it, you have to decide how comfortable you are treating someone who may not like you--for a variety of reasons, not just your sexuality. If you feel you can do the job, then get it done icon_smile.gif If you sense they're so intensely uncomfortable, then perhaps you need to have a little chat with them to figure out why. And if, in the end, your sexuality is the issue, then they always have the option to receive treatment elsewhere. Just be dispassionate about it. You'll eventually find your own groove and your own stlye when it comes to this issue. And it, like mine, will probably change over time.

    Remember, patients are there because they want expert help. And you are the expert. The physician/patient relationship is a negotiated one. Take ownership of your sexuality, and your education.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Aug 04, 2008 12:08 PM GMT
    I agree with Leanjock, congrats on your accomplishments. My best wishes for your success with your new business.

    It really is imperative that you keep your professional life separate from your personal one. My sexuality has no bearing on my professional career. Do I have gay clients? Of course, but it is not something that I'd ever let be a part of basic discussion with a new client (unless it might be a gay friend or acquaintance) and then it would be in passing, only. I'm there to perform a professional service and thats the objective.

    But my suggestions are more than just practical. I think you could invite some issues, maybe even legal issues if you don't focus soley on professional concerns.

    Again, I'm sure you will be successful. Make sure to update us on the progress of your business.
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    Aug 04, 2008 12:28 PM GMT
    I don't think FierceEyes is suggesting that _he_'s the one to bring up the subject ("Hi, I'm FierceEyes, your chiropractor and I'm gay.") I don't think that he's going to invite issues (even legal ones) if he answers a question. If you want to skirt it (which is fine too, and I've done that as well), you can just say, "No, I'm single." Inevitably, someone is going to say, "A cute thing like you with no girl?" or "Don't worry, the right girl will come along." and then you have to decide how "true to yourself" you want to be, I guess. I have taken both routes--a friend of mine gave me a great line, "Guy, girl, I'm just not that picky," but I have also just kept my mouth shut at that point and diverted the conversation back to the exam--or operation.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Aug 04, 2008 10:22 PM GMT
    Congratulations and best of luck after graduation

    >>>> Now comes the little bit of learning
    This guy whoever he is didn't come to you to treat his gayness or any lack-there-of
    He came to you supposedly for a Medical problem
    In Medicine or any medically related field we don't pick and choose our patients
    If this guy has any problem with you it is HE who should do the walking away

    I once almost got into a fist fight with a resident when I was training who didn't want to treat HIV patients
    because he had a daughter at home
    I know what you did doesn't rise to that lunacy
    but what does passing him off to someone else say exactly?
    This will come with more patient exposure but what someone does or says in their private lives unless it comes up during an H&P doesn't mean a hill-o-beans icon_wink.gif
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    Aug 05, 2008 3:18 AM GMT
    I would really love to have a gay PCP. I spent many years cultivating a close and candid rapport with a Nurse Practitioner who recently moved on to another assignment. It's difficult starting over with someone who may not understand what makes me tick.
  • Nautical

    Posts: 204

    Aug 05, 2008 7:51 AM GMT
    i start med school soon and im dealing with the same problem. my advisor saw me holding my boyfriends hand and questioned me about it later... really put me on the spot.
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    Aug 05, 2008 9:29 AM GMT
    Does your med school have a GBLT group? Not the university itself, but a med-specific GBLT group?
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    Aug 05, 2008 9:58 AM GMT
    I work as a nurse. It's never been an issue for me, but then I leave my sexuality at home, when I go to work, just as religion should be.

    Being a nurse, we have to get more personal than a lot of doctors do! As we are the handmaidens, and have too do the personal care; unlike doctors. So it could be said, that we are more vulnerable than a doctor is.

    But it has never been an issue for me at work. But I have seen other homosexuals cop it, as they wear their sexuality is on their sleeve, and even I have had guys say to me: "that poof, or whatever is not touching me!"

    Your sexuality does not have to be an issue.

    Oh congrats too.
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    Oct 09, 2008 12:45 AM GMT
    So someone sent a text message that looked juicy but it wasn't for you. So what. The fact that you transferred this guy to another doctor or carer as a result seem to me that you had WISHED that the message was intended for you.
    Welcome to the real world. Like back in the mid 1970s I was sitting in the car with a bit of a fancy for a young lass sitting at the front passenger seat. Instead, she started chatting joyfully at the guy sitting next to me in the back seat. So intimate did that conversation become that before we arrived at our destination, I was hearing wedding bells chiming.
    Or going back even earlier in 1972, when a college friend and I had a vacation in Spain. With my mate sitting at a bar nearby, I approached one girl and I asked her if she was free that evening.
    "No, I'll be with my boyfriend!" She spoke aloud, making sure that everyone present saw my humiliation.
    Did I lock myself away and hid under the carpet? No way! I achieved many things I wanted to achieve, such as my grades at college, training for a post as a qualified lifeguard, learning computer programming, competing in triathlons, backpacking the world (solo). By then I was enjoying single life so much, that I did not want to marry, and not having a girlfriend or partner became a blessing to me. Only in 1998 did I meet my future wife and I married in 1999, when I was 47. My first daughter was born when I was 48, my second when I was 51 and my third when I was 55. Wow! Not for nothing did I call myself NotThatOld on this website.
    Take a good look at yourself, Fierceeyes. The pics of you in your apartment show you to be sad, as if frustrated or guilty at your present status. Also take another look at your leader-pic. There you are, in a black tee-shirt, sitting in a shady environment with your hand on your head. You look to be in despair! Come on! You are a foot doctor (to put it bluntly), Get out there and enjoy life. And as for being gay, homosexuality is a state of mind, not a biological malfunction! My college mate who came with me to Spain was once gay. He had a crush on me. And I did for him as well. But he married (in his late twenties) and now has two sons. You are a very good looking young man. Apparently you have girlfriends as pictured in your profile. When your time comes, write a letter to me and add some confetti into the envelope. I wish you luck

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    Oct 09, 2008 12:59 AM GMT
    Well since I hope to start med school next year (keep your fingers crossed I get in guys!) I don't know if my being gay is an issue to my patients. I've worked in doctor's offices and hospitals and have dealt with patients on a one on one basis and me just being me seems to work fine

    I think that within certain fields you have to have a certain level of professionalism that transcends sexuality. Like I love flaming queens who do hair or make up and are always ON, but that same attitude wouldn't fly to someone holding a scalpel about to cut me open. It all depends on how you carry yourself during your work hours. What you do after work is your business and how you live your life as well.

    I wouldn't get to hung up on the issue.
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    Oct 09, 2008 1:23 AM GMT
    FierceEyes, you are not going to be able to avoid the sexuality of patients. If you were a woman and accidentally received a text that said, 'Hey man, go see this Chiro - she's got great tits!' Would you opt to be insulted that they didn't recommend you based on your Chiropractic skills?

    I'm not a doctor, but I do computer work. Many of the staff I work with comment on my looks all the time. None of it would I qualify as sexual harassment. But I could get offended if I chose to.

    The reality is that you need to build a practice some day - and sex sells. Now, I'm not suggesting that you come-on to people, or offer shirtless chiropractic service. I'm just saying, that if someone flirts with you, it's not going to pay to get ridged on them or turn a cold shoulder. You need to be able to accept the flirt while maintaining professionalism. (Don't confuse flirting with harassment or groping here - that requires a stern check and definitely dismissal of the patient if it continues.)

    If you just maintain your normal professional behavior - and you still come across as super gay - guess what: the patients that are uncomfortable will go away and those that like it or don't care will judge you by your skills and your personality.

    Don't force away patients who don't want to leave you because you have comfort issues with being recognized as gay. Dealing with your internal discomfort is part of the challenge of maintaining professionalism.
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    Oct 09, 2008 1:54 AM GMT
    LOOK! Up in the sky!
    It's a fag! It's a queer!

    It's... SUPER GAY!!!

    My partner and most of our friends all go to the same gay physician. His entire office staff is gay. Almost all his patients are gay. I may transfer my own care there before too long.

    Maybe you could begin a largely gay chiropractic practice. They're not uncommon in the Fort Lauderdale-Wilton Manors area. Fight fire with fire.
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    Oct 09, 2008 2:00 AM GMT
    Why would your sexuality be an issue?
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    Oct 10, 2008 10:36 PM GMT
    Earlier I wrote that you had a juicy message that was not meant for you, but you WISHED that it was for you...Whoops! I slightly misread your quote. It WAS for you....Sorry about that, but not being a doctor myself, the medical jardon can stump me icon_confused.gificon_redface.gif
    Never mind, I still meant everything else in my reply. I am not taking it back, no,not at all! icon_rolleyes.gificon_lol.gif
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    Nov 07, 2008 1:45 AM GMT
    NotThatOld saidA SON I NEVER HAD, NOT A LOVER - AN OPEN LETTER TO FIERCE-EYES...


    Dude. What the fuck.

    I hope you are joking.
  • SanEsteban

    Posts: 454

    Nov 07, 2008 2:56 AM GMT
    Fierce Eyes,

    I too must add my congratulations to your accomplishment. Great job!

    Regarding your concern post graduation and your sexuality, please don't let it worry you. Your sexuality doesn't define who you are. You will be a good Chiropractor who happens to be gay. Patients will talk to you but, honestly, in all the years I have been practicing, having people ask about my sexuality doesn't happen. Most of the conversation I have is simple chit chat and discussion about the treatment they are undergoing. Occasionally, someone may ask if I am married. I am honest and say, "No" and if they persist a bit I add, "I guess I just haven't meet the right PERSON yet." People don't even pick up on the word person in lieu of girl etc. Like I said, this rarely happens. People are usually too afraid to ask the doctor overly personal questions regardless of how comfortable they are with them. They will, however, ask the staff about you. My staff knows that I keep business and personal separate and that I am not to be discussed with patients - they can answer simple innocent questions but if anything gets personal, they will not answer and tell the patient that they are not at liberty to answer the question and that Dr. K. really doesn't discuss his personal life in the office to keep everything professional. It works well and in all the years I have been practicing, I have never had any awkward or embarrassing situations arise.

    Be yourself, have fun with your career and don't sweat the small stuff. People will like you for who you are and the help that you provide them. Just keep your work life and your personal life separate and all will be good.

    I hope this helps...

  • SanEsteban

    Posts: 454

    Nov 07, 2008 2:58 AM GMT
    NotThatOld saidA SON I NEVER HAD, NOT A LOVER - AN OPEN LETTER TO FIERCE-EYES



    I also need to add...WTF? Was this actually serious???
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 08, 2008 12:20 AM GMT
    FierceEyes saidSo, I graduate in December as a doctor of chiropractic, and I've been wrestling with the idea of what to do in terms of my sexuality and dealing with patients. It started when I got my first student patient, and he accidentally sent me a text that was meant for his friend that said, "Don't worry about it. My intern is super gay."

    I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, but I ended up transferring his care to another intern because I didn't want a relationship where I wasn't respected. Also, due to the extremely physical nature of chiropractic care, I'm not sure I'd have felt comfortable being that close to him.

    Are there any other docs out there who have advice on what they do with patients when something like this happens, or when they get the wife and girlfriend questions?
    I must say, I get a hard on when I get fixed.
    But my doc. is not gay, so I just say sorry...u make me feel better what can I say?
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    Nov 10, 2008 12:18 PM GMT
    Congratulations FierceEyes. Reaching a goal is a proud accomplishment. I wish you all the success you can have in your business and career.