Every so often and for reasons I don’t fully understand, I reminded that I’m a physician. I won’t get into a discussion on saying physician versus doctor as it can get heated and that’s not the point of this. I’ve been in some aspect of healthcare since 1997 and an MD since 2004, but most of the time it isn’t necessarily something I think about. I am a physician. It is what I do. It is part of what I am. As there are the jokes about people and their pets looking like one another, perhaps what we do helps to change us, that it is no long a job but part of our personality. Or maybe it was our personality to begin with that led us to our job. Chickens vs eggs throughout our lives.
I go to work. I teach when I can because that’s also part of who I am. And I go home to be on call. At work I am reminded of my title when people say “Dr. Chaudhari” or “Doctor” but maybe because it is at work that I’m not thinking about it so much. The other day I was picking up a prescription and while I was waiting I was absorbed in a book. The pharmacist only called out “Doctor” but I immediately came alert and turned toward him. My title must have been on the prescription or maybe it was in the system. I usually try to hide who I am in public. When initially asked many times I do respond with the title “Teacher”. And I mean it. Doctor in latin means “to teach”. As a pediatrician I considered the number one aspect of my role was to teach. Specifically I mostly do that teaching to the parents, not the patient.
Of course there is nothing to be embarrassed of which leads to the title switch. The problem is that usually once someone knows my title, their perception changes, whether it is on haggling for a purchase or even in a conversation. Once my title is known what I am comes to replace who I am. I am not what I do. But what I do is mostly definitely part of who I am.
Titles can help and hurt. At work it is needed to get the work done. That’s a given. You could be cuckolded at home yet be a CEO of a large corporation. The title of that job sure isn’t helping at home and maybe it’s the title and what comes with it that is causing the marital problem to begin with.
I am a hypocrite though. I can’t honesty say that I’ve never used my title outside of work and for my own benefit. I’ve used it for other people’s benefit and I’m usually ok with that if it was warranted but for myself I do feel guiltier. I have used it calling an insurance company to fight a charge or get it paid faster so the place I went to doesn’t send me a bill. I’ve used it with another insurance company to get them to pay for something they supposedly said they would pay for (it eventually worked once I got a hold of someone who knew what they were talking about.). I’ve used it when I was out and as usual, not dressed like a physician and I was being talked down to. I’ve been told by others that at times I may not use my title but I slip into “Doctor mode” when my attitude changes from usual passive to commanding and authoritative. Yeah, that idea shocks me too. I’d almost like someone to record it just so I can what it looks and sounds like.
I could go on and on with my personal thoughts on where medicine was, is and seems to be headed but I’m not.
Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
-Santa’s Fallen Angel