Sometimes (often?) lawyers get caught up in impersonal debates over legal doctrine — it goes with the turf.  But real people are involved and it is valuable to get a dose of the personal – irrespective of the laws’ “logic.”

Our post last week about whether an OB-GYN practice can remain all-female without running afoul of the anti-discrimination laws drew a lot of comments, but Sheilah Burnham, a nutrition teacher in upstate New York gave us a very personal view:

“I’m afraid I can’t give you a straight “yes” or “no” answer. As a women, I must admit that I have had a preference to female doctors for my own personal care. However, I did have a fantastic male doctor that I quickly became acquainted with when I had an emergency situation. Before my emergency, I avoided his office simply because he was a man and that fact alone made me uncomfortable. I like to think that I’m a fairly reasonable person though, and when it came time for me to have a different kind of care, he was definitely the better qualified and it is quite likely that I am still here today because of his actions as and OB-GYN and surgeon.

As a wife and mother of 4 boys, I asked the “men” in my family who they wanted as a doctor when we switched our insurance. I would certainly not expect them to be just as comfortable with a woman as they would with a man and I was simply being respectful of their wishes. As it turns out, we have ended up with a family doctor that is another man, but my last “OB” visit was actually with a midwife.

9137898_sHealth Care can be a “sticky-wicket”. If you want people to seek it out, then they need to feel comfortable with what they are getting. I mean no harm by saying I’d rather not have a male OB-GYN, and under the right circumstances, I wouldn’t care because my health and safety come first. However, for routine checks … I’m not going to have them done with somebody I’m not completely comfortable with. Full information, good bedside manners, and lots of understanding are key in making patients feel more comfortable. How can a man understand what it *feels* like when a woman is pregnant, going through labor, or suffering an ectopic pregnancy? Those silly gizmos to “simulate” labor, are stimulating stomach muscles, not their uteri!

All my “men”, they didn’t seem to care, but then there have been times when one of them would come to me because they didn’t want to go to a doctor of any kind, at all. It has been hard replacing the great doctor we had when he died, so even our new one has only had a few visits from us.

Does all this banter help give any insight for you gentlemen?”

Yes, it does, Sheilah.  Thanks.