Medical Q&As

Antenatal visits - students present?

I am expecting my first baby and my question is when I start going to the hospital for check ups can I refuse to allow student doctors to be present at these checkups as I do not feel comfortable at the thought of the students being there when I have to get undressed. As this is my first baby Iím not used to all this. Could you advise me?

You are perfectly entitled to be seen by the obstetrician or midwife without medical or nursing students being present. Since you feel uncomfortable with that possibility you should make your views clear at the start of the consultation. Students have to develop their skills by dealing with real people but the studentís educational needs are always secondary to the rights of the patient. Your rights are secure and you are perfectly entitled to assert your position. In fact the occasional refusal by a patient underlines the fact that these encounters between patients and students are special and should not be taken for granted. However, if the majority of patients refused to be interviewed or examined by student doctors we would have a problem. A certain amount of educational benefit can be derived from simulated consultations with actors but there is no substitute for dealing with real people. Taking medical histories, listening to the babies heart beat with a foetal stethoscope, examining the motherís abdomen are all part of the mix of skills that student doctors have to learn. I have always regarded such encounters as a privilege for the student and not a right. Maybe as you get used to attending the hospital you might consider allowing some contact with the students. You might consider it as your contribution to the education of our next generation of doctors and nurses. I make that comment very tentatively and do not wish to sow any little seeds of guilt. Your rights are secure and your wishes must be respected. Every doctor with a deep respect for patientís rights would totally support your right to refuse.