Don’t Call Me Doctor

Walk through a modern day teaching hospital, and you’ll be greeted by a stream of white coats. Pharmacists, technicians, lab workers, researchers, nurse practitioners, social workers, students, physicians, and residents are difficult to tell apart. In my three weeks working in the ICU, at least three people have introduced themselves to me as “doctor” who weren’t physicians (two DNPs and a pharmD). I was taken back for a second, and replied with, “Hi, I’m Rishi!”

Immediately I thought about some of the more passionatecolleagues I’ve trained alongside in residency:

If you want to be called a doctor, take the MCAT, go to medical school, and complete a residency!

This sentiment is shared by so many trainee physicians around the country. Whether we like it or not, the symbolic white coat and title of “doctor” have significantly changed over the last century.

My personal opinions about this topic were humbly shaped in medical school. I was trained by professors who never let us call them doctor. Instead, they demanded that patients deserve our respect. Titles often disrupt the team aspect of medicine, and make us forget that the patient is the most important part of what we do.

Since then, I’ve never let my professional colleagues address me as “Doctor Kumar”, and I never will. Just call me Rishi. Save your respect for the patient. 🙂

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