Monday, September 2, 2013

I Will Now Publish A Wonderful Reply To My Post About OB-GYN Ultrasound

A great sonographer from Israel posted a reply to my BLOG post about OB-GYN male sonographers.  I will post his reply without his name as I have not received permission to use his name. 

I will comment below.

Hi Tom. I fully appreciate your commentary on doing ObGyn sonography as a male. I am horrified by your boyfriend encounter and would certainly have wanted to notify the police. I would have been challenged by the dilemmas of having to reveal a patient's name and would have consulted with medical professionals and administration to determine the correct  of action here. But this was a dangerous person.

That being said, I have always been aware of the fact that I am a male who walks into a room with a woman, asks her to take off clothes and lie down and then turns off the lights. Even in echocardiography, this is a situation that can be severely misread by anyone. Part of my solution for most of my career was to always dress in a business shirt and tie and wear a white lab coat. This was to transmit a sense of professionalism and formality, and to say that I take my profession very seriously. If I were to dress like that here in Israel, I would be more formally dressed than top administrators of the medical center, much more so than any physician and I would look weird and out of place. So I simply dress more formally than anyone in my department (button down shirt and a short white jacket) and leave it to my obviously more senior age to give me that air.

All that being said, my corollary to what you have said is my first job in Echo, which was at Maimonides Medical Center in Boro Park in Brooklyn, New York. This area has a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. As an example of their conservationism, during an Orthodox Jewish wedding nobody touches someone of the opposite sex. Dancing is done as men with the men and women with the women. If I recall correctly, the groom and bride may dance by holding opposite corners of a cloth. So when I told my boss (and he was Orthodox although not Ultra) about six months after he hired me that I was surprised to get the job, he was startled and said that he hadn't really thought about it as he was a man and we were practicing medicine.

And now I work in a lab in Haifa, Israel, where we have a certain number of patients who are Orthodox Jews and a significant number who are Orthodox Muslims. Of course, we treat all equally and if a specific request is made for a male or female technologist we try to honor it. But a large number of times, whomever is assigned to take the patient does so without any preference and generally there is no objection.

All this being said, I did do ObGyn as a student back in the late '70s. At that point it was so new and there were no endo-vaginal exams so it was much simpler than it probably is today. One shocker was that at one of my clinical sites where the sonographer was an attractive young woman, I entered on one of my first days to where she had begun an exam to find her with a patient who was stark naked on the bed. Apparently, as we were using straight, very runny mineral oil as our contact material, she felt that she did not want to get oil on the woman's clothes. It was a maturing experience for me to try not to react in anything but the most professional way, but I think I succeeded.

Anyway, enough of my ramble. Back to the unpacking I should be doing as we have just moved into our new apartment, purchased and fully renovated.

Best wishes to you,

Thanks, I will publish your letter with no name out of respect.  TJW

Update  My friend has allowed me to use his name as the author of this letter.  He is Gershom Lichtenberg of Haifa, Israel.  He is a great contributor to the  

Give him a round of applause
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