Most of us don’t like going to the doctor’s or dentist’s office, and it’s pretty easy to make us uncomfortable.
Especially if we make a special request and it isn’t honored, confided the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Much_Chocolate5531 made it clear to her doctor’s office that she only wanted to work with female doctors and nurses.
But when her doctor appeared, accompanied by a male medical school student, the Original Poster (OP) felt pressured to allow him to stay in the room.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for not being comfortable with a male med student being in the room while my doctor performed a physical exam?”
The OP made a request for only female medical staff to come into the room.
“I (16 Female) recently went to the pediatrician with my mom for my physical exam.”
“I’ve never been comfortable with male doctors and have always requested female ones, and I was expecting an all-female team of doctors today, as it was what I requested.”
“After the nurse took my vitals, I was told to undress and get into a dressing gown and that the doctor would be in shortly.”
Something surprising happened during her appointment.
“After I had gotten into my gown, my doctor entered the room with a young man.”
“This had never happened before and i was extremely uncomfortable, as I was wearing nothing but a dressing gown, which I knew I was going to have to remove for later parts of the exam.”
“The doctor asked me and my mom if we were ok with the man, a male med student, watching my physical. Even though both my mom and I weren’t comfortable with this, neither of us knew how to say no, so we allowed him to come in.”
The OP was overwhelmed.
“The doctor then started asking questions about my mental health, which I wanted to answer but didn’t feel comfortable answering with this random man standing there staring at me.”
“I sat through a few questions and then all of a sudden broke down and started to cry, as I was so uncomfortable with this, I didn’t want the exam to continue.”
“I told the doctor how uncomfortable I was while I cried, and she told the man to leave the room.”
“As I continued to cry, she told me how she didn’t think I would react that way and that she was sorry, but she seemed rude and not happy during the rest of the exam.”
The OP wasn’t sure what to think.
“I discussed this with my mom and we both think the doctor was in the wrong, but based on the doctor’s reaction to my feelings, it seems like I was the one being rude.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP should have had her wishes honored.
“Your doctor is TA for taking anybody into that room where you were sitting in a gown without checking with you first.”
“Seriously. Normal practice is to ASK the patient whether they are okay with the presence of a med student, and not ask that question after the patient has undressed. It definitely isn’t okay to start the exam without clearing this with the patient first, regardless of how the doctor expects you to respond.”
“You were NOT rude. At all. NTA.” – Signal-Television510
“It’s really annoying to me that people are blaming the patient and her mother (who already asked for a female doctor) for being uncomfortable under pressure.”
“We are not all the same people. Some people find conflict difficult, even as simple as being ‘disagreeable’ to a doctor (person in authority/gatekeeper to your care) and saying no.”
“We all deserve proper care. The doctor went against protocol for bringing in medical students.” – Sel-Reddit
“The doctor should have been more understanding, especially for an underage patient who had expressed a preference for only female practitioners.” – Crackinggood
“It’s also confusing to blame the OP since the medical staff already disregarded her request for female care.”
“Why would she trust that saying no now would end well?”
“Or is the medical student not a ‘doctor,’ and they’re going off the insane semantics of, ‘You only requested a female DOCTOR’?” – StykerC3
“When I was 12, I had a very unusual female problem. So unusual in fact, it’s in the medical books. I saw my first dr for years. As you can imagine, at 12 I was very hesitant to have a guy ‘down there.'”
“As time went on, I had lots of people taking a look. (5 residents, dr, 2 nurses and my mom is my record) Never once was ANYBODY allowed in the room besides my dr and his nurse without my permission in advance.”
“My daughter is very sensitive to male doctors and will not have one. I fully back her on this and support her anytime she is uncomfortable including halting an exam when it became too much for her. Her dr was supportive as well.”
“Never be afraid to stand up for yourself with any dr. or other professional. You have a right to be listened to and be respected. When my dr retired, it took me 4 different people to find his replacement.”
“NTA” – HappySlugs32
Others agreed and figured the doctor was desensitized to situations like this.
“I think, too, that doctors see so many naked people, they forget that we are all different people.”
“I had to have a respiratory exam with a physician. When he tried to take my gown down, I held onto it, and said, ‘Can you please do an exam without exposing my chest?'”
“He was able to do it quite easily.”
“Afterwards, the doctor thought he was comforting me, by saying he has seen it all before.”
“I said, ‘Well, you haven’t seen mine, and that doesn’t make me feel any better.'”
“To his credit, he understood what I meant and apologized.”
“Before I left, he said, ‘Don’t worry about the operation, I will make sure you are alright.'”
“Still, I wish all doctors would realize just because they have seen 1000s of naked bodies, doesn’t mean they can be so cavalier about their patients’ rights to body privacy.” – KarenMaca
“How people perceive others’ comments is always going to be something of a grey area. No one knows the speaker’s intent truly.”
“If that MINOR felt uncomfortable and pushed into a situation they didn’t want to be in, it is certainly understandable that they would perceive these actions as rude.”
“The only acceptable response is, ‘I am sorry and will do my best to fix this.'”
“She was in a state of vulnerability and broke down crying.”
“Extreme compassion is the only answer here.”
“It is not our or anyone else’s place to question how she felt in that moment.”
“She felt what she felt and is valid, so I’m doing so.”
“Don’t try to suppress her voice.” – Stonethecrow77
“This is a poor teaching method too for the doctor to demonstrate to the student.”
“I go to a doctor that frequently has students. Protocol for the clinic is for the receptionist/assistant (whichever it is that day) to ask if I’m comfortable with a student being present before they even show me to the room.”
“If I say no for whatever reason, they inform the doctor and student and the student takes a break, and then the onus isn’t on the patient for awkwardly denying the student to their face.” – TheRestForTheWicked
A few urged the OP to get more comfortable with speaking up for herself.
“At 16, I always said yes because I was uncomfortable. At 50 I say yes because I really couldn’t give a s**t who sees what.”
“In this case, I’m disturbed by mom not stepping in. That’s kind of why she’s there. Also the doctor for not being more understanding.”
“Mommas, teach your girls to speak up for themselves! We have power, but you have to know you can assert it when needed.”
“Sweetie, you are NTA. But hopefully, you can learn to be one when the situation calls for it. This is a good example of an appropriate time to use the power of the AH!” – Faisfancy
“Girls deserve to be taught to speak up for themselves. None of this ‘above all you must be kind to excess’ crap so many young girls are told.”
“My mom did that. As I was starting high school she actually told me that if a boy asks me out, I have to say yes, because it takes a lot of guts to ask a girl out, and it would be unkind to decline.”
“While kindness has its place, it is more important to know how to advocate for yourself and to stand up for yourself. Teach girls that.” – NotMe739
“I don’t think OP is wrong for not saying no, but I do think it is important for OP to learn to speak up when they are uncomfortable.”
“It is common practice to let patients/guardians know when they are making appointments that it is a teaching hospital, so having a med student present is possible.”
“I would like to know if OP‘s mom was informed before that it could be a possibility that there may be a medical student present.” – Zealousideal_Radio80
While the subReddit could agree that the OP should have spoken up for herself sooner, they didn’t think she was wrong for standing up for herself mid-appointment, and they definitely didn’t find fault with her crying during an uncomfortable moment.
The OP’s situation is a great example of why minors need to be taught that their words have power and their consent should be respected in all settings.