Hitting A Nerve

Caring for the offensive patient


“I only see Jewish doctors.”

The middle-aged lady across my desk repeated that several times during her visit, apparently hoping to get some response from me. I just ignored it each time.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

Perhaps she meant it as a compliment, but I didn’t see it that way. And I don’t advertise my ethnic background. Maybe she thought it would get her better care. Not at my office.

Imagine if she’d said, “I only see white doctors,” or “I only see black doctors.” To say you came to a doctor solely because of his or her ethnicity is, to me, ignorant at best and blatant discrimination at worst.

Of course, I continued the appointment. While I found her comment offensive, I’m a doctor. Unlike a restaurant owner, I can’t refuse to serve someone because of their personal beliefs, no matter how much I disagree. I took an oath to provide equal care to all, regardless of personal differences. I try hard to measure up to that.

We live in a world that seems to be increasingly divided along tribal lines. Us against them. Me against you. Everyone for themselves.

I’m not going to play that game. For better or worse, I’ll take the high road and continue treating all people as equal. If you want to believe that religion, or color, or any other difference makes someone a better or worse physician (or person, for that matter), you’re entitled to your opinion.

I may not be able to change your mind, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to be the best doctor I can to everyone who comes to me, regardless of who they are.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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