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    Ob/gyn: A specialty rooted in professionalism


    During the group session, we  sat uncomfortably recalling repulsive behaviors we had previously witnessed and jointly decided that, as a department, we would have absolutely no tolerance for or insensitivity to lack of professionalism. The next time an attending or colleague mentioned “tightening the vagina” during a laceration repair or the position we sit at during cystoscopy was referred to as the “cockpit” we would feel empowered to say something and not let the comment go by. If somebody made us uncomfortable with their sexual jokes, we aligned to have a plan to report it and/or feel confident in discussing the act with them. All in all, most of us are lucky in that we do not ever or often witness events that disrespect our patients and colleagues, but we all left with a heightened sensitivity and consciousness toward allowing any unprofessional act, however small, to go unnoticed and without reprimand.

    Next: Why doctors don't take care of family

    So yes, I will argue that publicizing bad behavior may help patients and physicians, but I sincerely hope it does not create a sense of fear for women who are trying to get care.  Our professional goal is to always provide excellent patient care in a safe, non-judgmental, and evidence-based manner. I do not think there is harm in discussing these ugly situations to raising awareness, however awkward it may be. I know that our specialty is filled with amazingly beautiful stories of professionalism and compassion, and that is how we are seen through the eyes of our patients and colleagues. I am proud to be an ob/gyn who works toward making women’s lives better in a respectful and collaborative manner because I know that our entire profession is rooted in professionalism.


    1. Our family secrets. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(4):321.

    2. Laine C, Taichman DB, Lacombe MA. On being a doctor: shining a light on the dark side. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(4):320.

    3. Rabin R. Doctors behaving badly. New York Times. August 21, 2015. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/21/doctors-behaving-badly/. Accessed November 5, 2015.

    Yalda Afshar, MD, PhD
    Dr. Afshar is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of California, Los Angeles

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    • Dr. Chris
      Dr Afshar, I appreciate your concern for our patient's dignity, but what am I to say to the dozens of women who come to our center specifically for "tightening the vagina"? The "cockpit" comment, I agree, is outrageous....


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