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Asking prof for medical advice?

closertofine

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    Hi, I'm venturing out of the lounge to post a question here! In brief, I've been having odd digestive problems that make me think there is something wrong with my GI system (more than the usual IBS). I do have a GI doctor, but my symptoms just seem to be getting worse since I've started following his treatment.

    Here's where my question comes in: I know of a GI doctor who has a very good reputation around here, but the problem is, he's the leader of one of my small groups. So I'm pretty sure that asking him for a second opinion is totally out. But would it be OK to ask him to recommend another doctor?

    That sounds pretty innocent to me, but I just want to make sure I wouldn't be treading on thin ice, ethically speaking. If this is a stupid question, just let me know that (in a nice way, OK?!). :p Thanks!
     

    Dr.Evil1

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      I don't think it's a silly question. Many medical students suffer from complaints ranging from carpal tunnel symptoms to severe depression...we spend most of our day in a professional relationship with people who can help us out. I personally don't think that it would violate any ethical boundaries for you to ask the prof for advice. Furthermore I don't see any ethical problem with you getting treatment from this particular doc if he instead says that he would see you. I can not see why a professor treating you would lead that doctor to be biased either for or against you which would form the basis of an ethical delima.

      The more realistic question is whether this would be a violation of professionalism. I again see no problem here as long as you don't expect "special" treatment from the doctor since you are medical student. If you are one of his patients and happen to be a medical student then there should be no conflict there at all.

      Good luck...I hope that you feel better soon.
       

      stoic

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        i would personally see it as a question of your level of comfort with being treated by one of your prof's rather than a an ethical question. i'd imagine that he'd probably be glad to either talk to you about your condition or refer you to someone he trusts.

        good luck,
        s
         
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        closertofine

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          Thanks to both of you. I definitely wouldn't expect "special" treatment from this doctor, and I think I'd be pretty comfortable being treated by him. Good to know it might not be such a horribly inappropriate question to ask him, especially since he is also in charge of a few ethics seminars here! :p

          So I guess I will try to email him about it...although I'm not quite sure what to say...maybe have some kind of disclaimer like "I wouldn't normally ask a prof for this kind of advice"? I'm terrible at coming up with these kinds of things!

          But it is getting to be more and more of a pressing problem...and pretty worrisome...so maybe he will be OK with at least pointing me in the right direction for treatment.
           

          jamie

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            When we were studying cardiology in my second year, I thought I detected a murmur when I listened to my own heart. On the last day, I asked my small group leader to listen to my heart, and he thought it was just a flow murmur. I have a friend who thought he heard a split S2, ended up getting a "practice" EKG on a later rotation, and was referred to a cardiologist (turned out to be fine). When we studied derm, after a horrific melanoma lecture, the lecturer had anyone who had a questionable mole come up for evaluation -- he's learned from years of experience that the lecture tends to scare students about their own moles.

            When it comes down to it, you definitely would NOT be the first student to ask a question about his/her own health.
             

            bulldog

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              closertofine said:
              Thanks to both of you. I definitely wouldn't expect "special" treatment from this doctor, and I think I'd be pretty comfortable being treated by him. Good to know it might not be such a horribly inappropriate question to ask him, especially since he is also in charge of a few ethics seminars here! :p

              So I guess I will try to email him about it...although I'm not quite sure what to say...maybe have some kind of disclaimer like "I wouldn't normally ask a prof for this kind of advice"? I'm terrible at coming up with these kinds of things!

              But it is getting to be more and more of a pressing problem...and pretty worrisome...so maybe he will be OK with at least pointing me in the right direction for treatment.

              i'd suggest u go through ur student health center, make the complaints, and ask them to refer u to a gi specialist. it would make things less awkward. whatever u do, don't ask him to randomly write u a prescription. i remember reading about an sdner who asked a resident or attending to write them a prescription and it was noted in their evaluation. :eek:
               

              stoic

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                bulldog said:
                i'd suggest u go through ur student health center, make the complaints, and ask them to refer u to a gi specialist. it would make things less awkward. whatever u do, don't ask him to randomly write u a prescription. i remember reading about an sdner who asked a resident or attending to write them a prescription and it was noted in their evaluation. :eek:

                yea, but that sdn'er also asked for a controlled substance.

                if you're comfortable with your prof, then there is absolutely no reason you shouldn't ask him.
                 

                dancinjenn

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                  I've asked prof's q's about my condition and how it would affect such and such...just on an "I'm interested because I have this condition" kind of way. Everyone I have asked has been really helpful. Once we had this embryo lecture that had a list of substances that were thought to be harmful to the fetus and on that list was the specific type of radiation I had been given. I went up to the prof at the end of the lecture and had a great conversation about the treatment and it's effects and the new research on that particular subject. Now this particular Doc is retired from taking patients but he recommended a couple of other Doc's who have experience with this therapy and pregnancy.

                  My thoughts on the whole subject is this: If you have an issue isn't it better to go to one of the Doc's that has an intense interest in it? We all have this wonderful resource at our fingertips, why not use it?
                   

                  Rendar5

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                    I avoid student health centers unless i know the docs. There's a psychiatrist wh's the head of one of my small groups that i have asked a couple questions to (in terms of dealing with friends).
                     

                    cytoborg

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                      closertofine said:
                      Hi, I'm venturing out of the lounge to post a question here! In brief, I've been having odd digestive problems that make me think there is something wrong with my GI system (more than the usual IBS). I do have a GI doctor, but my symptoms just seem to be getting worse since I've started following his treatment.

                      Here's where my question comes in: I know of a GI doctor who has a very good reputation around here, but the problem is, he's the leader of one of my small groups. So I'm pretty sure that asking him for a second opinion is totally out. But would it be OK to ask him to recommend another doctor?

                      That sounds pretty innocent to me, but I just want to make sure I wouldn't be treading on thin ice, ethically speaking. If this is a stupid question, just let me know that (in a nice way, OK?!). :p Thanks!

                      As a 1st yr, I asked a prof for medical advice on something pretty benign and non-personal, since he's a great doc with tons of experience and I trust him, but he said that it's frowned upon to give medical advice or treatment to colleagues because usually a thorough H&P isn't done, it's a quick in-the-hallway kind of thing and it can lead to problems. He said that the professional thing to do is to make an appointment in clinic.

                      That said, I happened to mention a health problem to another attending who wrote me an rx for the antibiotic on the spot without my even asking. But he did say, "I know this is frowned upon, but between you and me here is the rx." It wasn't a controlled substance or anything but I still felt a little guilty...but at the same time it saved me a visit to the clinic so I was grateful.
                       
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