The dating game

The dating game

Feb 01, 2007

Q: I'm an associate at a small animal practice. Is it OK for me to date a client?

Dr. Jeff Rothstein
Dating a client is risky business but not necessarily an impossible situation, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, president of The Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan. It all depends on how the relationship is handled.

"Most owners—smart ones—would simply let a team know that doctor-client relationships are unacceptable," Dr. Rothstein says. "If the relationship falls apart it can get messy—you may lose a client and anyone else the disgruntled client tells."

But life is short and love is hard to find, Dr. Rothstein continues. "In rare cases, it might be permissible," he says. "But discretion is key."

Dr. Rothstein advises being up-front with your boss so he or she isn't blind-sided by the relationship. "This gives your boss a chance to discuss the situation with you openly," he says. But it's best to keep the rest of the team out of the loop until things have progressed.

"I'm a little soft on this because I know of a few successful couples that developed out of the doctor-client, and, of course, patient bond," Dr. Rothstein says. "Proceed with caution. One solution could be for the client to switch clinics while you're dating. Let's face it. If it happens on Grey's Anatomy it can happen anywhere."