June 14, 2012

Alienation... Warranted?

I had my yearly women's physical today and I took great inspiration from Mrs. Who, who went to her doc's earlier this year and said she wasn't going to get on the scale.

I thought, "Why? Why do I step on it? I know how much I weigh and quite honestly, it's nobody else's business." It had never occured to me that I could actually say... no.

So I walked in and she said, "Go ahead and step on the scale" and I said, "No thank you. Not today. It always makes me feel bad, no matter the number, and I just decided... I'm not going to do that anymore."

And she replied, "OK. I won't argue."

And that was it. Simple. So I won't do that ever again. I don't see any value added.

But this is a post... where I want an opinion on something. I've already called my Mom and a couple girlfriends about this, but something odd happened and I want your take.

No judgement from me. Just your opinion. And should someone comment and you don't like their comment, you can't be nasty. I'll delete the comment. A modicum of civility is required in my home.

I've been going to him for 20 years. I know his wife, I know of his kids, it's superficial, but we've known each other long enough that we know what questions to ask when we see each other. He delivered all three of my babies and was really amazing. He's a really really good doctor. He has an outstanding reputation.

So today I was sitting there waiting when he came in and on his lapel was a button endorsing a candidate for President in 2012.

I was so... taken back.

To me there is a delineation as to where politics belong and where they do not. Social etiquette... no politics or religion.

I just expect that when I go into a place of business, that their political affiliation is not going to be thrown into my face. To me, politics is private. My beliefs are not up for discussion nor do I pry about someone else's. We all come to our views based on life experience.

I had to really burn down to think... would I feel this way no matter the political figure? I don't particularly like either, but I do dislike one much more than the other. Would I feel so strongly if he was wearing the one I disliked less?

The answer is yes.

Because this is what the deal is to me... when you are so finatical about someone in politics that you are willing to declare to everyone in your business, KNOWING you are going to alienate people who truly cannot stand that political figure, where does it end?

When you have crossed the line of social niceties and you've chosen to bring your political beliefs into your office, where is your new line?

And this is how I put it to my one girlfriend... he was wearing an Obama 2012 pin and if I'd walked into his office wearing a "I heart Romney 2012!" tshirt (if there is a such thing, blech) would he have given me the same quality of treatment?

Would his first thought have been complete and total revulsion and would I have gotten lesser treatment because 1) he was too distracted by his thoughts on what a moron I must be or 2) he just couldn't get past my political views to render the proper care.

You see, in my view, his putting his political views out there for everyone to see IN his office, have tainted the relationship. It now has me questioning... would he give me the same quality of care if I was a Romney Girl? Would he have been capable?

He has created this questioning.

Politics belong at home or with your friends who enjoy talking about it. Politics belong at rallies that you choose to attend. Politics belongs at the voting booth when you show up and vote...

My Mom and I were processing this today and she brought up a valid point, 'Maybe he has seen so many women who are not getting the care they need and he thinks this Obama care is the solution?"

And it was a very valid and good point. But I had to answer, "yeah, but he's not working in any free clinics to help these women" and as one of my other friends said, 'And none of those women who have no money and can't afford care are in his office with all of us with insurance."

My husband said to me, 'I think he's just excited about the candidate and has had too much of the happy kool aid to drink' to which I said, 'You don't know that. You are speculating.... you are guessing. He could be a complete freak with nothing but disdain in his heart for anyone who thinks differently. You just don't know..."

Because the bottom line is... I DO NOT CARE what his political belief is, but I feel that by his showing his political view in his place of business he wants to make sure *I* know his and there is a pretty good probability that he may actually care what mine is.

And he shouldn't. It's none of his business.

So I'm debating going back. I've realized I would feel this way if he was wearing a Romney 2012 button. I would. Anyone who is willing to completely alienate a portion of their business just by politics... I must question the thought processes.

What say you?

Posted by Boudicca at June 14, 2012 09:34 PM
Comments

I have been reading your stuff for a few months now and have come to the conclusion that you are a smart, sensible young woman raising her family the way she thinks it ought to be done. I agree with you 100%. I also feel the same about folks who put that out there on the backs of their cars....
Bravo says I.

Posted by: Papa Guy at June 14, 2012 11:10 PM

Good lord! Um... that a doctor would wear a political button while in his office seeing patients is just incredibly unprofessional! I don't care who the candidate is. Since it seems he has not done this in the past I'm left wondering... Why? Or it could be he has always done something similar, but you were never in the office during those times.

But here is the real issue: the fact is, he has made you very mentally uncomfortable, that can not be undone. The problem now is that it's difficult to trust his judgement.

So the question to ask yourself is, do you feel comfortable with any future medical problems that might arise where he might be the doctor advising you on treatments? Only you can answer that. From what I see in the post, it looks as if he has lost your confidence and this is not good at all. We all know it's not only the medicines and patching that make a doctor good - there is an element of trust and comfort that is a definite factor in successful treatments.

When someone displays such a lack of judgement, it's certainly logical to wonder if that same lack has carried over to other aspects of his life and work. Since his work involves your health, it's more than reasonable to question.

No matter what the reputation or how long a person has been good at a particular career, it is possible for them to have mental or physical changes and cease to be the person they once were. Most times these things are slow to develop... an oddity here or there that never happened before, a lapse of professionalism that never occurred in the past...

So there you go - a non-answer since the real answer is one only you can provide. :) I know what I would do, but I'm not you and I don't know him so I'm not sure it counts.

Posted by: Teresa at June 15, 2012 12:04 AM

Rereading my comment, I should clarify, I don't think he's necessarily slipping mentally, it's just something that must be considered. He could be perfectly fine and he's always been like this, but you missed the pertinent bits. heh. I was trying to look at all angles. Hard to do in a comment.

Posted by: Teresa at June 15, 2012 12:08 AM

My shoot from the hip answer: Go with your gut.

My more thoughtful answer: If there was a medical emergency which required his intervention, I have no doubt you would cast aside everything because of your trust in the doctoring you've come to expect. However, because of the way the medical/insurance industry is set up now, rarely do we even see our office docs at the hospital. It's all so separate, and they actually have doctors who are "hospitalists", at least in bigger cities. So you would have no need to have him involved in any emergency situations. Which leads to...your gut is probably right.
From a strictly business point of view, you are spot on. If you put your political preferences out there, you run the risk of losing some of your business. That is/was your choice!!

Posted by: PeggyK at June 15, 2012 05:39 AM

Hate to say it but I always go to the nurse practioner now. One of the Docs there really pushed me to get tested and start taking vitamin packets. They had the test machine and vitamins right there in the office. I felt it was understandable about explaining the need for vitamins but I felt trapped and had to go through the whole 'speel'. And that's what it felt like. He was now a salesman pushing a product. That was a couple of years ago but willing to bet it was the same one. Ugh. Sounds like he is getting worse.

But no different than my son's favorite teacher wearing an Obama shirt to school 4 years ago. I almost had a heart attack. Should have heard the conversation in our household after that.

Posted by: vwbug at June 15, 2012 05:41 AM

Any professional is less effective when there are doubts about his professionalism.

My family has dropped a doctor that we no longer trusted. It was a pain to find new care, but looking back, it was the best thing we could've done at the time.

I see no problem with quietly dropping this doctor and finding a new one. If it ever comes up, then you can let him know your reasons. It may surprise him or he may not even care, either of which just reinforces your judgement that you needed a change.

Posted by: Ted at June 15, 2012 05:55 AM

I woke up doing another gut check on it this morning, trying to figure out if there was something else.

And no. I just find it a breach if social etiquette.

And I'm so sick of politics. I really am. It's everywhere. You turn and it's in your face. In my house with my husband and the TV (Thank God for the Heat making the play offs. It took politics out of the house.) to the newspaper, the online news, billboards, everywhere. There are places though that I don't expect to get shoved in my face. A refuge if you will. Doctor's offices would be one.

If he had engaged me in political discussion, if he had initiated, I would have told him I was never coming back, that he had offended me by being too familiar with me and that I don't do politics with people. But in his favor, he did not. Perhaps he hoped the pin would open up the opportunity... a Passive Aggressive way to try to talk about it? I dunno.

But I do know as well that he is one of the best docs in town, no matter how weird I think he is at times. He is one of the one's I KNOW I could have trusted to open me up. And I would have done so without concern. He really is an excellent surgeon.

And I did wonder... did he do this 4 years ago and I just missed it?

Posted by: Bou at June 15, 2012 07:15 AM

Regardless of whether you decided to continue using his services or not, I hope you let him know that you feel he's committed a boundary violation. It may give him cause to think about the appropriateness of displaying politics in a professional setting.

Posted by: Pogue at June 15, 2012 08:07 AM

I would feel awkward in that position.

At my 2011 doctor's appointment, when I asked my doctor (whom I have been seeing for a decade) about a baseline mamogram, given my family history and my younger cousin already having had her baseline, he went into a spiel that sounded to me like reciting obamacare propaganda. Bottom line: he said his office no longer felt mammograms were necessary, even with a family history, prior to age 40, or it may have even been 45. I don't recall, it was more than a year ago.

I debated not going back to him, because I couldn't believe his POV change. But, I did go back this year, and he sent me off for my baseline mammogram without me even bringing the topic up.

I'm not sure what, if anything, changed in that year.

I'll keep going back to my doctor, unless he expresses a similar view on obamacare again. Then, I'll have to find a new doctor.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at June 15, 2012 08:26 AM

Wow. Just Wow. I think my jaw would've been on the floor when I saw that. To me its a breach of social and professional conduct. You have come to his office for a specific reason. That reason does not include any overt or covert politicizing.

If you have another follow up appointment set with him - I would bring it up. State that you've been glad for his medical care all these years and hope that the focus in his office (entire office) and in his medical professional dealings with you stays there and does not (including removing his campaign pin) stray into political territory. If that doc wants to go beat the drum for his candidate - he can do so at Rotary, Kiwanis, campaign events, letters to editor, etc . . .but NOT when he is supposed to be SOLELY focused upon the care and well-being of his patients! Hippocratic Oath anyone??? :-)

There - my two quarters (adjusted for these economic times ;-) )

Posted by: Nina at June 15, 2012 09:26 AM

I don't care if it's a doctor or a Kmart sales clerk, workers should leave personal stuff like politics at home. It's odd that someone smart enough to become a doctor could be dumb enough to potentially alienate his customers this way. But I can't imagine any real professional treating you better or worse based on what candidate you support.

Posted by: George P at June 15, 2012 12:58 PM

There are plenty of business people here who wear their political affiliation on their sleeve, on their lapel, on their Facebook page...

I, personally, think it's foolish.
You run the risk of alienating half of your associates, clients, etc.

Then again I, personally, hate politics.

I have also learned to not discuss politics with friends and co-workers. It never ends pretty.
So, I would have said nothing to this doctor, and given a good history with the man, forgotten it the minute I walked out the door.

Posted by: Roses at June 15, 2012 01:33 PM

Up here it is the "bless you", "I am blessed" have a "blessed day" that drives me nuts.. and my doctor is one of them.. But he is also prior service so we talk enough military that I get him so swear a couple times and I feel comfortable with him again... Even got him to drop an F bomb once..!! So there is Hope.!!

Posted by: P'cola Titan at June 15, 2012 01:36 PM

Back in the days when I was a bartender, I was taught to avoid only two subjects with customers: Politics and religion.
If it's a good rule for a bartender, it's a good rule for any professional.

Posted by: K-Nine at June 15, 2012 03:20 PM

I've never seen a medical professional wearing campaign paraphernalia of any kind... that would make me supremely uncomfortable and yes, I'd probably find another physician... especially if he was promoting a man I couldn't stand.

I like Pogue's idea; let him know what you think. You'll be doing both him and his patients a favor.

As an aside, I had my yearly a week ago with the nurse practitioner. I've never met my 'actual' doctor. ;)

Posted by: pam at June 15, 2012 04:14 PM

Hmm...I had to think about this one. As a teacher of young children, I don't tell them for whom I'm voting. If kids ask me political or religious questions, I answer with facts. I won't even put a political bumper sticker on my car because I don't think parents need to see that and have it rightly or wrongly color their view of my abilities as a teacher (and it does happen, and parents talk in the line to pick up kids).

I just think there are some professions that shouldn't openly show political preferences. Off the job, you can, but not on the job. Those professions that deal with a wide swath of the public shouldn't promote their beliefs during work hours. It's not their business to make their politics your business. After all, YOU are paying him to be a doctor, not a political advocate.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at June 15, 2012 04:14 PM

In real life and in the blogosphere, I have friends and contacts with whom I do not necessarily see eye to eye with their political preferences and beliefs. So long as they do not forcibly push their preferences on me, I just tend to overlook them. And give them the same respect in return.

If you have a solid professional relationship with your doctor, you trust his medical judgment regarding you and your family's health, and he continues to provide quality service, I see no reason to change doctors. Too many faulty assumptions can easily be made by him just simply wearing a political pin. However, if during an appointment with him he tries to engage you in political conversation you would be well in bounds to remind him that you are paying him to look after your health, not your political views. Keep his services, but make sure he doesn't cross your boundaries.

Posted by: diamond dave at June 15, 2012 04:30 PM

After our conversation yesterday, I knew you would write about it so I spoke with a couple of my friends who know and love this doctor. They were all shocked and one said she would have addressed it with him if she was in the office. They all had your disappointed feelings, and they made it clear it didn't matter if it was Obama or Romney on his lapel pin, it was that he wore it at all. Unprofessional and has no place in his medical practice.

Posted by: jd at June 15, 2012 07:52 PM

I agree with what Diamond Dave said. Don't care about anyone's political preference as long as they don't push it on me or engage me or try to convert me.

I am Conservative/Republican

My husband, much to my dismay, is a Democrat and I just know he voted for Obama in 2008.

#1 rule in our house is nobody is allowed to talk politics at all. We even tell our guests this rule. It is simply not allowed.

We live together in harmony as long as politics is not spoken at all. We have an understanding and we think no less of the other due to our political views.

But as for doctors, no matter the situation. I listen to my gut as it knows all and has never lead me astray.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at June 18, 2012 11:11 AM

I know I'm a bit late to the discussion, but for what it's worth, here's my two cents:

Is it his practice? His business? Then he can say and promote whatever he wants. The rights granted to us enable him (and anyone else) to do so.

Do I think it unprofessional? Yes. Because what he is really saying, without words, is 'This is what I believe. Like it or go elsewhere.'

What I think most people forget is that money talks. If a business does something you dislike, it is your choice to give that business your patronage. If more people paid attention to what a business does, and subsequently sent their dollars elsewhere, a lot more businesses would change. Which would change the world.

To put up with someone (or some business) that promotes ideas you disagree with is to silently say you agree as well.

This doctor has the right to choose to promote any idea, product or candidate he wishes. But he doesn't get to choose the consequences for his actions.

Choose well, Bou. More than your health is on the line.

Posted by: Rave at June 18, 2012 11:48 AM

Went today for my check up... he's still wearing it. I continue to ask my friends what they think about this, and they all are disappointed. Majority feel its unprofessional and quite frankly they are surprised he is a democrat! Like you one of them has been going to him for over 20 years and never knew it. This tells me he doesn't talk about it or push it. Even his tennis partner didn't know he was a democrat.

Posted by: jd at June 18, 2012 03:19 PM

I decided to leave him, not the practice. I think it's bizarre that his friends don't know his political beliefs, but he's willing to alienate strangers. Somethin' ain't right.

I am going to switch to the nurse practioner and if I need to see one of the docs, I'll see one of his partners. Honestly? He will NEVER know the difference.

His political leanings don't bother me in the least. It is HIS view and he's entitled. What bothers me is that he is so willing to alienate a portion of his practice without blinking an eye.

It bothers me that I can barely escape politics as it is, then I got to my doctor's visit, only to have it in my face again.

I think it's tacky.

So I'm staying because everyone else in the office is great and professional; I'm just choosing not to see him anymore.

Posted by: Bou at June 18, 2012 10:02 PM

Sounds like an excellent compromise. And I so agree with you on the politics. *sigh* It's all too much I'm done with it.

Posted by: Teresa at June 19, 2012 01:21 PM