Why must my doctors insist on talking to me about politics?

I've been going to Dr. X for decades. He would occasionally make a noise about politics - very rarely. I'd usually respond noncommittally, and based on what he said over the years I got the impression he was mildly liberal and generally sensible.

Today.
Dr. : so what about those politicians, huh? Pretty bad.
Me: yeah, though some are better than others (my first mistake)
Dr.: Nah, we should get rid of all of them.
Me: mumble
Dr.: Starting with AOC!
Me: mumble (!?)

Now, to me , in the age of Trump and insane lying Republicans, someone who views AOC as the prime enemy becomes immediately suspect as being a little loose in the head, and I will now view him differently for the rest of my time with him.

Another doc, my urologist, who I luckily don't need to see regularly anymore, once went on a an unhinged rant about Obama and Obamacare. He sounded like a Fox news talking head, yelling about socialized medicine. My trust level with him tanked after that, but by then our interactions were pretty much limited to - your PSA is still zero! See you next year.

I left an endocrinologist once, partly because of her unprompted and vehement (and again, wacky) criticism of Obama. I detected more than a hint of racism there. (The other problem was her staff, whom she treated like crap, leading to high turnover, leading to very sloppy and annoying office practices.)

What are these people thinking when they decide to open up like that?

Or am I wrong to get worked up about it?


drummerboy said:

I've been going to Dr. X for decades. He would occasionally make a noise about politics - very rarely. I'd usually respond noncommittally, and based on what he said over the years I got the impression he was mildly liberal and generally sensible.

Today.
Dr. : so what about those politicians, huh? Pretty bad.
Me: yeah, though some are better than others (my first mistake)
Dr.: Nah, we should get rid of all of them.
Me: mumble
Dr.: Starting with AOC!
Me: mumble (!?)

Now, to me , in the age of Trump and insane lying Republicans, someone who views AOC as the prime enemy becomes immediately suspect as being a little loose in the head, and I will now view him differently for the rest of my time with him.

Another doc, my urologist, who I luckily don't need to see regularly anymore, once went on a an unhinged rant about Obama and Obamacare. He sounded like a Fox news talking head, yelling about socialized medicine. My trust level with him tanked after that, but by then our interactions were pretty much limited to - your PSA is still zero! See you next year.

I left an endocrinologist once, partly because of her unprompted and vehement (and again, wacky) criticism of Obama. I detected more than a hint of racism there. (The other problem was her staff, whom she treated like crap, leading to high turnover, leading to very sloppy and annoying office practices.)

What are these people thinking when they decide to open up like that?

Or am I wrong to get worked up about it?

Don't you know any doctors closer than Alabama? 


H’m. People obviously feel they can confide in you. It’s a special superpower, valuable for the  protection of the rest of us...  question

(I thought the cowboy emoji might convey a John Wayne/quiet style of appreciation. If I’ve missed the mark, please forgive me)


drummerboy said:

I've been going to Dr. X for decades. He would occasionally make a noise about politics - very rarely. I'd usually respond noncommittally, and based on what he said over the years I got the impression he was mildly liberal and generally sensible.

Today.
Dr. : so what about those politicians, huh? Pretty bad.
Me: yeah, though some are better than others (my first mistake)
Dr.: Nah, we should get rid of all of them.
Me: mumble
Dr.: Starting with AOC!
Me: mumble (!?)

Now, to me , in the age of Trump and insane lying Republicans, someone who views AOC as the prime enemy becomes immediately suspect as being a little loose in the head, and I will now view him differently for the rest of my time with him.

Another doc, my urologist, who I luckily don't need to see regularly anymore, once went on a an unhinged rant about Obama and Obamacare. He sounded like a Fox news talking head, yelling about socialized medicine. My trust level with him tanked after that, but by then our interactions were pretty much limited to - your PSA is still zero! See you next year.

I left an endocrinologist once, partly because of her unprompted and vehement (and again, wacky) criticism of Obama. I detected more than a hint of racism there. (The other problem was her staff, whom she treated like crap, leading to high turnover, leading to very sloppy and annoying office practices.)

What are these people thinking when they decide to open up like that?

Or am I wrong to get worked up about it?

 I agree with you no am a physician and do not comment on politics unless patient brings it up and unless we are on the same page


it is disappointing how many physicians i hear in the doctors lounge who are for trump. I have gotten in several loud arguments over this. They seem as dumb as the people I see interviewed at trumps rallies.  Sad that these people are caring for others and where I work for mostly black patients. And do not dare mention Medicare for all!!!!


Perhaps it's a kind of stress test. Do they take your blood pressure during the conversation?


If Ben Carson has proven anything its that medicine is more of a craft than a science.


My dermatologist hates Trump, let me know if you want a referral.


Smedley said:

My dermatologist hates Trump, let me know if you want a referral.

 Well he is thin-skinned.


Our old pediatrician had a woman in the office who would play talk radio, and yell at it.  "They" want free healthcare.  "They" want college for nothing.  "They" just want to be handed diplomas without doing anything for them.  "They" just want to sit home and collect food stamps.  You get the idea.

The doctor himself never talked politics, and we liked him, so I took the advice of the person who had recommended the practice to us and tried to ignore her.  Though I think he may have had similar political leanings, as he eventually decided to stop accepting ALL insurance because he wasn't being reimbursed enough (mind you, he had a practice in NJ and FL, split the week between the two, and had a VERY large home in Essex Fells, so I doubt he was starving*) and now all visits had to be paid in full.  That's when we left.  Shortly after he closed his NJ practice and went full time to FL and now practices concierge pediatric medicine, price per year varies based on how many children you have, but in return you receive unlimited visits and his personal cell phone so you don't have to call a service.  Meanwhile, We're very happy with the  pediatrician we now use who accepts our insurance and doesn't mind having hoi polloi in her waiting room.  I have no idea of her politics as she and her staff are all very professional and never bring it up.

*Please don't misunderstand, I agree that doctors should be able to make a good living, but don't cry poverty while living in a million dollar home with a carriage house in the back larger than many people's regular homes.


Context is important. I suppose if you have an old-fashioned professional relationship where the doctor spends a half hour or more with you, you might excuse a minute or two of random discussion about politics, weather, whatever. However, if like most of us, your time with your physician is limited, and s/he spends time on things that have nothing to do with learning about your lifestyle and health with the goal of improving your health, I wouldn't hesitate to dismiss them (even if I agreed with their politics). And let them know why. 

A barber, bartender, Uber driver and others can prattle on and still do the job you're paying them for. A doctor needs to have more focus.


safetyfirst said:

 I agree with you no am a physician and do not comment on politics unless patient brings it up and unless we are on the same page

it is disappointing how many physicians i hear in the doctors lounge who are for trump. I have gotten in several loud arguments over this. They seem as dumb as the people I see interviewed at trumps rallies.  Sad that these people are caring for others and where I work for mostly black patients. And do not dare mention Medicare for all!!!!

Drives me crazy.  A friend's brother is a top pediatric urologist (not in NJ), raised in a liberal working class family in the Bronx, attended Bronx Science. He not only supports Trump, but fundraises for him and goes fishing with Donnie Jr. Warning:  I am going to generalize here.  I often think many doctors are a socially/emotionally stunted from being cloistered from regular society for their entire early adulthoods.  They enter this intense world at the age of 22 and don't emerge until 30. For some sub-specialties, 33 or 34.


It's nothing to do with science. It's the human condition of tribalism. I honestly think anyone still supporting Trump shares Trump's views on race, power and segregation. There's no more blurred lines. That is how profound the division is in America today. Trump is now acting out what Limbaugh, Levin and Hannity were preaching on talk radio for years. These people were boiling over with resentment and hatred for Obama, now they have an opportunity to get revenge so to speak. They mistakenly assume because you are white that you are of the same "tribe"......


Jaytee said:

It's nothing to do with science. It's the human condition of tribalism. I honestly think anyone still supporting Trump shares Trump's views on race, power and segregation. There's no more blurred lines. That is how profound the division is in America today. Trump is now acting out what Limbaugh, Levin and Hannity were preaching on talk radio for years. These people were boiling over with resentment and hatred for Obama, now they have an opportunity to get revenge so to speak. They mistakenly assume because you are white that you are of the same "tribe"......

Yeah - to be fair, and it's something I tend to forget - most older white men are Trump supporters. So most of these guys probably get a fair amount of validation of their politics from the people they hang out with.


Thinking about my own experiences with Dr. X - I seem to remember once getting kind of aggravated with this doctor once before because he brought up politics and was bad-mouthing Obama, and I pretty sternly asked him to never bring up politics with me again.

I guess he forgot, or maybe he's just trying to aggravate me.


drummerboy said:

Thinking about my own experiences with Dr. X - I seem to remember once getting kind of aggravated with this doctor once before because he brought up politics and was bad-mouthing Obama, and I pretty sternly asked him to never bring up politics with me again.

I guess he forgot, or maybe he's just trying to aggravate me.

 They tend to like irritating people who are liberal in their views. Trump is a classic example. It's kinda easy to detect them these days, they start the conversation with a broad brush attack on ALL politicians.....to hide their subliminal message. When Obama was in office they would start the conversation with health insurance.


Once I found out the politics of my primary doctor and my accountant I found another doctor and accountant. Everything has changed since 2016 and politics mean something to me now.


wendy said:

Once I found out the politics of my primary doctor and my accountant I found another doctor and accountant. Everything has changed since 2016 and politics mean something to me now.

 yeah - I can't disagree with this.


To be completely honest the change was not immediate and as to the doctor I had some issues with him prior to learning of his politics. As to the accountant, the commute to his office (where he really had Fox News on both times I was there but I only realized the second time that this was all he watched and he wasn't just watching to see how the other side lived) was definitely not convenient but until last year's tax appointment I had led inertia take control. 


I also fired my internist based entirely on his politics.  And I told him. 


You know what's even more messed up? Encountering musicians who are Trumpers. That always blows my mind. 


The one I encountered turned out to be a Trumpeter.


Hey! I'm a Trumpeter!


I just spent 5 days in the ICU unit because I had a big concussion and subdural hemotoma.  Everywhere from the ambulance to the ICU unit asked me what day:year, and who the president was about every hour.  I usually said I hoped I was delusional about it being Trump.  No one was offended and at least half told me he had gotten impeached and hoped to be rid of him soon.

So, any political bias I saw from paramedics, nurses and doctors seem to be the same ones I had, and pretty much in line with fellow NJ,s.


My brother is a urologist and hates Trump also, my sister in law is an infectious disease doctor and she cried about 2 days when Trump was elected


To me, it's not the political stance but that these consultations are usually very brief, and arguably more important as one gets older, and for a physician to be investing time in talking about something other than your lifestyle and health suggests they really aren't that invested in you. What they learn about your diet, fitness, problems/issues in your life can help to lead to better treatment, discover a potential problem etc. For them to be prattling on about politics, movies, music, whatever (beyond breaking the ice for the first minute), even if I agreed with all of it, would be disconcerting.


I had only one doctor, a urologist, with whom I discussed politics and we pretty much agreed, except in 2000 when I said I was for Bradley he said he preferred Gore. Late her criticized Obama but it was almost "from the Left" in that it was a criticism of the war in Afganistan.

I have had the same primary care physician for about 25 years and have no idea as to his politics. He has NY Yankee posters on walls in one of his treatment rooms. But I know almost nothing personal about him. He is that kind of guy.

Right before a visit to a dermatologist I saw his name on campaign posters, He was running in a non-partisan election for re-election to the Board of Education. My appointment was on election day and I asked why he wasn't out campaigning. He said that if people liked him they would vote for him and if not, so what.

My wife brought up Trump in a consultation session I was having with a physician. He agreed with her but not as militantly.

As to my accountant the first time I met him he had just finished being Treasurer for a Democratic Congressman's campaign. He and I have fairly similar politics.

However, what really bothers me is how many health professionals I and others posting here have foundit necessary or desirable to visit!!!


The closest I came to discussing politics with a doctor was talking about Medicare for All with my dentist.  He said he was for it, but had some way he wanted it done.  I ran away before finding out and I usually avoid any political discussion with doctors or where I work.  It's hard for me to stop talking about politics once I start and I don't want a big blow-up with someone who sticks me with needles or makes sure I keep getting a paycheck.  

That said, I would not drop a doctor based on their politics.  I'm more concerned about their subject matter knowledge.  


STANV said:

I have had the same primary care physician for about 25 years and have no idea as to his politics. He has NY Yankee posters on walls in one of his treatment rooms.

 that would be a deal breaker for me. 


ml1 said:

STANV said:

I have had the same primary care physician for about 25 years and have no idea as to his politics. He has NY Yankee posters on walls in one of his treatment rooms.

that would be a deal breaker for me.

I’ve always assumed that every doctor has a treatment room like this. Yankee fans all have something wrong with them, and should be quarantined.


There's a power imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship that I think makes the behavior troublesome. They are  cases making decisions that affect our health. Maybe we're sitting there in that delightful exam gown. We're inherently at a disadvantage if a doctor wants to start pontificating about politics. 

Me personally in a situation like that, I'm not getting in any arguments and I'll want to get out as quickly as possible. Not conducive to a good doctor-patient relationship.



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