In most journeys to become a medical doctor, the process of education is eight years. The first four years are spent getting an undergraduate degree. Then the next two years—after beginning medical school—are a mixture of classroom learning and labs.
It’s usually only in the last one to two years of med school that students begin observing doctors working with patients. For many of these students, experience comes from hospitals associated with their school. Patients at those hospitals may be asked if medical students can observe during their treatment.
That’s exactly what happened to Redditor do54323tf. Understanding the importance of these future doctors getting real world experience, Original Poster (OP) do54323tf agreed to allow it.
But it turned out her boyfriend was not OK with her decision.
After disagreeing about the matter, OP turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for letting medical students observe when I’m at the gynecologist? My boyfriend was upset when he found out.”
The OP shared:
“My gyno’s office is in a hospital that works really closely with a couple local medical schools. Often, when I go, she’s asked if it’s okay if she has a medical student, or a couple, in to observe.”
Her doctor protected her privacy, limiting observations to routine exams.
“She’s always made it super clear I can say no, I’ve never felt any pressure. And she’s only asked when I’ve been in for routine check-ups, not when I’ve been there for anything potentially sensitive.”
“But I’ve always said sure. I’m comfortable with my body, I’m not bothered by it at all, and they’re med students, like they’re trying to learn, it’s nothing inappropriate.”
The OP said on occasion it was also helpful for her.
“My doctor has sometimes talked them through stuff too, which is cool to hear, I’ve learned stuff about my body that wouldn’t have otherwise come up.”
“None of them have ever been rude or inappropriate, honestly I’d say they’ve come off a little awkward and shyer than me.”
“It’s also not a sexy thing at all, nobody looks good jammed up with a speculum lol.”
Thinking nothing of it, she never told anyone about it.
But then it came up in a video chat with friends.
“I mentioned it offhand yesterday when I was in a group video call with three of my female friends, and my boyfriend was sitting with me. My female friends were all like ‘that’s so weird, mine has never asked that!’ And ‘Isn’t it weird having a couple people standing around looking up there?'”
“I said no, it was chill, I wasn’t really bothered by that thing. My boyfriend didn’t say anything at the time and the conversation moved on.”
“After the call, he had a bunch of questions.”
- “How many students? (1 to three)”
- “Men or women? (Both, pretty evenly split)”
- “Gynecology students or just any old med student? (I didn’t ask but I figure they were studying gynecology because my doctor was teaching them about it)”
- “How old? (Generally in their 20s I’d guess)”
In general, medical students are at least 21 when they begin medical school and are at least 24 when they graduate.
Her answers failed to reassure her boyfriend.
“He was super uneasy with me exposing myself like that to anyone but my doctor, and I said that I didn’t see why it was a big deal, they were med students, they were about to be doctors.”
“He said that they were just college kids, who knows if they were gonna stick with it, and he didn’t like me inviting random college kids in to look at my genitals. I said I’d say no next time, it wasn’t a big deal to me either way.”
“But he still seems bothered by the fact that it wasn’t a big deal to me, and that it happened in the first place!”
So then OP asked…
Or more specifically:
“AITA for letting med students observe at my gyno appointments?”
For the uninitiated, the AITA subReddit allows members to vote and even offers a handy voting guide with five acronyms to choose from.
They even explain exactly what each acronym means.
A bot then tallies the upvotes associated with each acronym and declares whether the OP is YTA, NTA, ESH, NAH or didn’t provide enough INFO.
For OP do54323tf, the tally wasn’t a close call at all.
Redditors were clearly team NTA.
“NTA—it’s about your comfort, not his. It’s a medical procedure not a peep show. ‘They might not stick with it…’ yes, because the kind of debt medschool brings is something you just take on, on a whim.” ~ but*5000
“NTA—Your body, your choice.”
“These are medical students. They’re not people in a bar, you’re not doing sex work. But if you wanted to hang upside down on a pole and show a paying audience your vagina, it would still be your choice.”
“Just because he visits the area doesn’t make him the property owner.”
“It feels like he views this like you’re doing pornography. If he can’t tell the difference between volunteering to help train the people who will be keeping women healthy in the future and sex work, he has issues.”
“If he had issues with his partner doing sex work, that would be worthy of a discussion. If he has issues with his partner helping train future doctors, he needs to pull his head out of his a$$ and grow the f*ck up.” ~ LakotaGrl
“NTA. -‘He said that they were just college kids, who knows if they were gonna stick with it, and he didn’t like me inviting random college kids in to look at my genitals.’-“
“What’s the key word there?”
“My. As in, those are your genitals, not his, and as long as nobody is getting sexual with them his boundary is unfair.” ~ km89
“Yeah, this is not okay. The root feeling behind what’s disturbing him is that he feels he has ownership—or any say at all—over what should be a 100% individual decision.”
“I’m not gonna jump to the red flag breakup dance, but it is the kind of thing that I hope they both unpack to find a healthier mindset about this. (I think her mindset is fine; just that I hope she calls out her boyfriend on this ownership bullshit.)” ~ jianantonic
A few medical students shared what these observations were like for them.
While others pointed out the absurdity of her boyfriend’s concerns about the students.
“Honestly the internal monologue of a med student during a speculum exam is usually watching the doctor interact with the patient, technique with the tools, looking for clinical signs of health or illness, and hoping we don’t get asked any hard questions in front of the patient.” ~ _csn
“‘Dude, I totally figured out an easy way to see some primo sn***h! All I’ve gotta do is take a hard science curriculum, keep my GPA up, study for and nail the MCAT, apply to dozens of medical schools, make it through the rigorous selection process, suffer through three years of intense study and at least three more of residency, and take on a ludicrous amount of debt in the process. Too easy, bro!'” ~ Flurb4
“Not to mention the 3-4 years of undergrad education and entrance exam.” ~ mareliz710
“Seriously. By the time they are observing patients in clinicals, they are either already doctors doing their residency, or medical students in their advanced years. Like, last few semesters of medical school. If they were going to drop out, it would have happened long before this point.” ~ loloannd
“NTA, it’s your gyno appointment and your call. -‘He said that they were just college kids’-“
“Uh. No. Those are medical students/residents, they are not random college kids. Your BF has no clue how medical school works. They may not stay in gynecology, but they are doing a gyn rotation and that info is relevant to other fields they may go into as well.” ~ wobblebase
“I’m a med student, thank you for helping med students learn!! Being able to see the unique ways our bodies can be different is awesome and something that reminds me of why I love medicine!” ~ megsweg
“Medical student here! You’re completely NTA! So much of our education relies on the willingness of patients to allow us to observe and participate in their medical care.”
“And more importantly, there is absolutely nothing sexual about a pelvic exam, and shame on your boyfriend for sexualizing a routine women’s health appointment.” ~ pineapplepuzzle
For many respondents, the importance of having well trained doctors was paramount.
“NTA—Does he want you to have a good gynecologist? Then they need to learn it! You are doing the world a favour, it helps the students and it allows others that are not comfortable to say no.” ~ TreKopperTe
“NTA. Personally from me. But my husband I asked about this also gave the NTA rating as well. He thinks it’s ridiculous.”
“They’re med students there to LEARN. That’s how doctors are created—they have to actively learn. He also had some choice words about how ignorant your bf is.”
“Challenge your bf and his thinking on this. Personally speaking that’s a big “ew” flag. Maybe not red but definitely something you need to consider if you move forward with the relationship.” ~ CatLadyLostInLibrary
Some people were willing to give the boyfriend a pass on his reaction, claiming his reaction was justified—as the definition for NAH states.
But then they found fault with his reaction citing insecurity and immaturity.
“NAH—as a lot of others have already said it’s your body you can do whatever you want and it’s great that you’re willing to help students learn. I think your boyfriend is wrapped up in his own insecurities and failing to see the larger context or scope here, but that doesn’t make him [The A**hole].”
“He communicated his feelings with you, in what sounded like a respectful way. This is a good opportunity for him to grow as a person and hopefully he does. Good luck to you both!” ~ Cptpowpow
“NAH—He is just immature but I wouldn’t say his actions have quite made him an asshole yet. Your vagina/ reproductive system isn’t his, you are the one maintaining its health and how you want to do that is ENTIRELY up to you.” ~ legalizemavin
In the end, most people just found the boyfriend’s objections objectionable.
One Redditor summed up the common sentiment well.
“NTA. Why does the fact they aren’t quite doctors yet (they are close to being) matter? He seems to assume they are a load of 18 year olds doing a travel and tourism degree who have just wandered in from their bar crawl to have a peek and wolf whistle at you.”
“How does he think doctors become doctors? Some people are saying they are only comfortable with their partners doctor and themselves seeing their partner’s genitals. What if the doctor wanted a second opinion from a colleague? What if they had a different doctor that day?”
“Is it the fact it’s extra people or the fact they aren’t qualified yet? The only reasoning seems to be that people would assume these almost qualified doctors find the experience sexual until the day they qualify where they stop finding it sexual.”
“Would he be ok with you having a male gyno? What about a woman who was a lesbian? I do think he’s the a**hole because although he can’t help his feelings, they are irrational and frankly kind of bizarre.” ~ InSanctYlem
What do you think?
The book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life is available here.