“I want you to be my friend, not my patient” – social dilemmas for rural GPs.

This is a real challenge and not only in a Rural setting. My wife and I are South Africa Expats and as a result our practice has a significant number of Afrikaans speaking expat patients who attend here. Guess who we socialize with and go to church with? So what does one do ? Do we tell our friends that they cannot become patients or our patients that they cannot become friends ? I know what the Medical Board would say but in the real world it is much harder to make the distinction. I was very lucky to be a happily married GP when we were in a South Australian Rural environment 13 years ago. We were in a town with 300 residents and it was impossible not to socialize with patients – every single person in the town and district was a patient of ours. I can only imagine the challenge I would have faced if I was a decade younger and single. I do understand why the Medical Boards have their rules but it is simply not a real world solution in some scenarios especially when the media and the movies often romanticizes the situations where a patient end up hooking up with the handsome/sexy single doctor

Genevieve's anthology

I’ve just read a brilliant column by Dr Mel Clothier in this month’s Rural Doctor

Making friends is hard to do | Rural Doctor

She talks about how hard it is for rural doctors to separate their professional and social lives. This is such an important, difficult and often under-appreciated problem for rural doctors, especially when they’re starting out and trying to get established in a rural area. Although such dual relationships are challenging for everyone, I get the impression that the friendship/ patient dilemma is often hardest for young single females (would be happy to hear any opinions to the contrary!).

I know that I found it really hard as a registrar. This aspect of rural practice contributed significantly to my being almost burned out by the end of my training. Overworked and socially isolated, I thought that I may have made a big mistake in becoming…

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