Thursday September 11, 2008
Should he ask her out?
In response to our two-part series on crossing the boundaries between health care pros and patients, we got this letter from a listener. Let's call him M. He's got a great question that lands squarely in the grey areas that we've been talking about.
I'll write M back and tell him what I think, but I thought he might appreciate hearing other opinions. What do you think he should do?
Dear Dr. Goldman,
My Family physician has retired. A new doctor has taken over his practice. There is an assistant which works part time for the 'new' doctor. She gets the patient's charts, see patients to the exam rooms, take calls for the doctor(medical and all sorts), but is not a nurse.
Here's my problem, we are both a similar age and I find I am quite attracted to her. Would it be inappropriate to ask her out? I've asked a friend, who is a clinical psychologist, their opinion. They think it is fine. I've thought of the positives and the negatives. The very real possibility of rejection, or if things 'went bad' after dating. I could see my doctor on the days she isn't at the office as she is part time.
I know you're not Dear Abby, but any advice would be greatly respected and appreciated.
So would M be crossing the line if he asked her out? Post your comment. We'd love to hear what you think.
Previous Comments (6)
Ask away, but the medical clerk would have an ethical obligation to say no.Linda, September 13, 2008 8:39 PM
Barbara Le Ber, September 16, 2008 3:40 PM
It may not be inappropriate to ask this girl out but if the 'date' does not go well, or is actually unpleasant, future contact in the office may be unavoidable. And I suspect the doctor would not approve.
My husband would not exist had his father, a confirmed bachelor found himself in hospital and asked his nurse out - and they subsequently married. I say go for it. She can always say no. If she says yes, you could be a very lucky man. Nurses make splendid wives.Dorothy, September 22, 2008 8:47 AM
If you find her that attractive and a real possibility for a long term relationship, find a new family doctor and ask her out. Risky but what isnt't in life.Michael, September 22, 2008 9:01 AM
I don't think there is an ethical reason not to ask the woman out. However, I feel M. is taking a big risk, as the woman will have access to his medical records and if the relationship became very bad she could potentially use her position to make his life difficult. This is an extreme outcome. If they simply break up it will be awkward, but no more so than if they worked in the same building.Patricia, September 22, 2008 10:38 AM
I am 68 years old, prostate cancer survivor, single, working full time, 6 children 16,18,38,40,43 and 44 years old, 4 grandchildren.
At the end of my annual physical examination today, my family doctor said I appeared in good physical health.
I then asked him if he ever asked men of my age about their mental health state? Well, that stopped him and he answered
Then I asked him when did he ever ask about men's mental health?
He told me that he asked upon the death of a spouse or loved one or another life changing situation such as cancer diagnosis, heart attack etc.
I asked if men my age ever brought up mental health issues with him? His reply was enlightening as he said that usually the man's spouse would bring in their husband and describe symptoms but that men rarely came in to talk about their mental health.
I asked why he did not ask men about their mental health. He became a little uncomfortable and replied he did not have time to go into therapy with his patients. He also expressed concern that psychiatrists were not available for referrals or it took a very long time to see a psychiatrist.
Then he made the revealing comment to me, "I am feeling a bit defensive about all of this!"
I agreed with a big smile on my face and asked if he would consider asking more men my age about their mental health.
Check out mensheds.com.au for an interesting national health program in Australia to help combat older men's depression.
Men, quite often when they retire, they lose part of their "self worth" and many of their social contacts. Then they move into a condo or apartment and they "lose" the opportunity to use any tools. Men, especially in Winnipeg where I live, become "house bound" and withdrawn. Depression can set in.
It is interesting that my doctor, who I like and respect, was comfortable to handle my physical needs but wary of my mental health and did not feel comfortable to ask.
Thanks, Doug Mackie,