I treat lots of doctor’s kids. For some of them it’s really important that I know they’re a physician. Usually it comes clear in the introduction. I had one dad show up on his day off in shorts with his medical staff badge affixed to his t-shirt.
When I visit a doctor for my self or with a family member I never disclose my profession unless it comes up in the natural course of dialog.
For me, my occupation in someone else’s clinic is largely irrelevant. When I’m with my children I’m a dad, not a clinician. I’m there to seek the advice of another professional. There’s also the perverted thrill I get from watching other doctors in direct action when they have no idea I’m on the inside. Kinda like an undercover restaurant critic.
But I suspect I’m the exception. From what I can tell, most of my colleagues and friends declare their professional connection.
Why we want this connection disclosed is complicated. Perhaps we expect preferential treatment. Maybe it’s a way of stepping up for our loved ones just like any good advocate or surrogate e-patient would do. We want what’s best for our kids or spouse. It could be a social cue giving permission for the treating physician to use jargon and set the dialog onto another level. And it may be the right thing to do. Perhaps I should reconsider my mischievous stealth approach.
In defense of my badge wearing doctor-parents, nearly all appropriately submit their ignorance. They’re smart enough to understand that they can’t keep up with single-minded, digestive health idiot savant like myself. And interestingly, most doctor-parents I’ve treated wilt with their own children. They always disclose their most illogical fears to me in a way that’s endearing.
The way we behave around sick loved ones is science unto itself. And how we as doctors introduce ourselves to providers is part of that.
What do you say?