So many doctors are desperate to claim a title.
I know a pediatrician who owns his own practice. Every 18 months or so a medical student follows him around for an afternoon. He bills himself a clinical assistant professor at the local medical school. This label is at the root of his professional identity.
Everybody wants to be a big shot. But that’s not what patients are looking for.
Years ago I referred my wife’s grandmother to Dr Charles Brunicardi for cholecystectomy. He was the Chairman of Surgery at Baylor College of medicine and early pioneer of laproscopic surgery. A simple woman from a small town in central Texas, Poi (as we called her) didn’t know anything about professors, promotion or academic hierarchy. And despite actually qualifying as a big shot, Chuck Brunicardi made an impact on her. One of the best doctors she had ever seen in her 80 years, she reported. Beyond his remarkable capacity to connect with her she was out of the hospital in a day. A miracle at the time.
Every time I saw Poi after that she would say, “Tell Dr. Brunicardi I said hi.” Or, “I love that Dr. Brunicardi. What a doctor.”
Patients don’t talk about your title, they talk about what you do. If all you have to pull people in the door is a label, you’ve got work to do.
Cast of one of the Mayo Brother’s hands | Image taken during a recent trip to The Mayo Clinic