Monday, January 07, 2008

Doctor in the House

In poking into an interesting radio series on CBC radio, I found this essay intriguing. How do you feel about doctors using their title when referring to themselves? The essay's author, himself a doctor, says that when health is on the line, we prefer to know we're with Dr. Soandso, not "Jane."

I have bristled at my children's pediatrician starting his phone calls off with, "Hi, this is Dr. Smith." We've been seeing him for nearly 10 years now. Couldn't he say, "This is Paul Smith from Your Pediatrician?" Or, if he's afraid I won't know who he is --though who else would I know from the pediatrician's office, how about, "Dr. Paul?"

I similarly bristle at hospital births when the rotating cast of residents and student doctors flow through, each introducing herself or himself as Dr. This or Dr. That. I understand that one needs to say who they are, to explain why they are in your private birthing space (though do they really need to be there if you don't know them???). But what about using the same introductions nurses use: "Hi, I'm Kenneth, I'll be your nurse today." Try it. "Hi, I'm Karen. I'll be the doctor taking care of you today."

It works, don't you think?

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Blogger Myra said...

Lovely Idea!!! I agree... Good luck getting Dr. Big Pants to agree, though. :)

I always wondered why midwives were not given fancy titles... But if they were that would separate them more from the central player in birth, the mother... the mother should be the most important one in the room... Not Dr. So & So....

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about people who are NOT your doctor? I had a boyfriend in college whose father I was supposed to call Dr. So-and-so. Even Mr. felt weird to me!

7:46 PM  
Anonymous marianne said...

I just have a couple of thoughts, personal experience (but certainly not attached to this one! :)

First one is this... My daughter, Shannon, just graduated med-school{the one who is soon having a homebirth by the way :)} and will begin her residency in July. I've watched her work so hard, in two countries and through two pregnancies, graduate with honors, and I'm sort of excited to hear her called Dr_______ (whatever)"Shannon"is fine.

And then a second thought, when I left my doctor's office the other day after my bronchitis episode, I almost said, "Thanks, Kelly." She is near my age, another single mom to a teenager, and we have a great repor. But I didn't. I "caught" myself; what ran through my mind was, I could, and I'm sure she would be fine with it. But I wanted to show her the respectful title of recognition for her life's path that has served me this day. Not bowing to some higher authority, just human acknowledgement that she took time in her life to do what she felt would be a path of service, and I noticed. That's my two cents. And by the way, when she calls me she says, "Hi Marianne, this is Kelly Reed...."

8:12 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Word. I find this so obnoxious and pretty much exclusive to MDs. PhDs and PsyDs almost always introduce themselves by their first names. (This observation may or may not be based on my experiences at work. Ahem.)

6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny story with this...I used to work in chemical research (I have a lowly B.S. degree) with lots of PhD chemists. In general, they were referred to by their first names. But in formal settings they would be introduced as "Dr So and So."

One of the senior level guys had his group administrative assistant make appointments for him with his primary care Dr. He would marvel at how fast he got through the office--never waited to see the Dr at all, even when there were lots of people in the waiting room.

Well one day the receptionist at the Dr's office said to him "Dr. Armor, we were wondering, what field of medicine do you practice in?" "I'm a PhD chemist" he replied. "OH! So you're not a REAL DOCTOR!" she replied with disdain. And asked him to take a seat in the waiting room.

And from then on he always waited just as long as anyone else when he went to the Dr.

I found the snobbery minorly amusing at the time...but of late, I've been less amused as I realize that many medical doctors really and truly do believe that those of us who aren't doctors are inferior to them. For the most part, the PhD "doctors" that I worked with treated me as an equal. Yes, of course there were a few that looked down on folks with lesser education...but in any walk of life there are people who look down their noses on others. In the medical profession it almost seems to be part of the educational curricula.


4:31 PM  

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