I don’t advertise that I’m a physician when I am in my doctors offices, but they often ask and find out. When an OB resident asked if she could practice her ultrasound scans on my 32-week belly while I waited for the maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) doctor, I said sure (more views of the baby!). She asked if I worked, so I told her what I do and she immediately seemed even more nervous as she fumbled with the probe, even though I can barely tell an ultrasound from my elbow. In walked the MFM doctor, who despite meeting me at least six times already, introduced himself and said “nice to meet you” as if it was the first encounter. He then berated the resident about her poor ultrasound skill. “If you are looking for the femur, why are you near the heart?” he scolded. He apologized to me for “wasting my time,” but said it in a way to make a point to the resident more than me. When I told him I didn’t mind at all and was happy to help a resident, he grabbed the probe and taught both of us a trick for finding the femur (find the bladder, turn 90 degrees, and wiggle back and forth). He then gave me a towel to wipe off the jelly and said, “well, everything looks good. I don’t need to see you again. So go home, and stay pregnant.” Gee, thanks for the pearls of wisdom. As for not seeing you again, the feeling is mutual.
While I have the utmost faith that this MFM doctor is smart and performed a thorough evaluation of my ultrasound, his usual poor bedside manner with me was further tarnished by how poorly he treated his resident. Having been a resident a few minutes ago (ok, maybe years), I could empathize with her. If I could have put my clothes on and wiggled myself off the table faster, I would have told her that doctor is a poor example of how to interact with patients. She should take little from him other than his ultrasound techniques. Since my 32-week pregnant self doesn’t move quickly enough though to catch a busy resident, I will just pocket this knowledge for my own interactions in the clinic with trainees.