The Silence of the Profession

Many of us in Australia will remember an ad for toothpaste in the 1990s where a man (with a great toned and tanned upper torso mind you) has his back to us whilst he is facing the mirror brushing his teeth. We are told they can’t show us his face, because he is a dentist. Apart from learning about this particular brand of toothpaste (?!) we learn from this that medical professionals are not allowed to be seen in public.

For me this is a great adage of the medical profession where there is some strange notion that we should be neither seen nor heard, and this extends to many in the profession who feel constrained to be seen as a person in public, or to have and voice their opinion in public for fear of being hauled before the medical board, or having their reputation as a doctor undermined or destroyed.

Many doctors will not be on social media, have blog sites or websites, and do not want to have themselves in the public eye, lest something ‘go wrong’ and their reputations be destroyed.

But lets consider this.

Does this even make sense?

Why is it that we would feel that being seen as the person that we are would possibly get in the way of people respecting us professionally. And why do we seek so much to separate the two? Are we really such a Jekkyl and Hyde? Are we one person at work and then some strange demonic being in our private lives that we would not want anyone to know about? Surely not… Continue reading

Are you a doctor, or a person?

In medicine we get taught how to be a medical student, how to dress and how to act, and then we get taught how to be a ‘doctor’, how to talk, dress and act. Most of us go through life thinking of ourselves as being either a ‘medical student’ or then ‘a doctor’ and these roles become so ingrained as part of ‘who we are’ that we are unable to separate ourselves from it.

In my twenties, I remember going out and meeting people, not wanting them to know I was a ‘doctor’ (especially the guys, in case they felt intimidated and ran away… *doh* !!) but then being unable to talk to them as me anyway – even though I was being ‘social’, I was always in that ‘doctor’ mode of question and answer and efficient interrogation with the provision of answers and solutions! It’s how we’re trained to communicate! It was agonising! Nothing I could do could get rid of that way of being with people, it was so ingrained, and then it became so ingrained, that I didn’t even realise I was in ‘doctoring mode’ the whole time… and I know that I am not alone in this as I have seen it everywhere in medicine!

We’re so ingrained to think of ourselves as ‘doctors’ and we spend so many long and ridiculously long hours trying to ‘become’ a ‘doctor’ and then to become not just a doctor, but a ‘specialist doctor’. We are referred to as ‘doctors’ everywhere we go, from census forms, hotel bookings to drivers licenses and bookings for flights. ‘Doctor’ is our title that precedes us, everywhere that we go, but:

Do we ever stop to consider that we are people, the lovely man or woman that we are, and not ‘doctors’?

Continue reading