Sunday, December 27, 2009

What's in a Name?

I love my profession. Despite all my incessant whinings and complaints about my lack of social life and leisure time, I know I wouldn't want to be doing anything else but be a doctor. During the past weeks, I had the chance to truly experience why I love this profession. I have regained that sense of purpose and that degree of enthusiasm I once possessed (or that possessed me)when I first received my medical license. Five years after I took that Hippocratic oath, I am again that young, idealistic, hopeful physician, a full-pledged graduated of the UP College of Medicine, with 101% faith in its vision-mission:

A Community of scholars
Highly competent in the field of medicine with a heightened social consciousness; Imbued with moral, ethical and spiritual vigor;
Dedicated to a life of learning; Committed to the development of Philippine society;
Inspired by love, compassion and respect for the dignity of human life; and
Anchored on the principles of Truth, Freedom, Justice, Love of Country and the Democratic way of Life.

Guided by moral, ethical and spiritual values, we commit ourselves to excellence and leadership in community-oriented medical education, research and service, using the primary health care approach, intended especially for the underserved.

Tonight, however, as I am typing this entry in the solitude of my quiet Cardiology conference room, I realize why this profession that I love - my source of immense joy and fulfillment, is also my source of agony and almost unbearable pain. It's not the long working hours or the lack of monetary compensation. The most hateful thing about being a doctor is being a doctor itself.

Hmmm, I know I'm not making sense. But let me put it this way. Sometimes, being a doctor just prevents you from being seen for who you are as a person, with your entire identity being overshadowed by the glamor and esteem of the white coat. After you get your license, people, even close friends and family members, seem to have forgotten your name and start calling you "Doc". I'm sure they never meant to be offensive. "Doc" is meant to be some sort of a pet name, an affectionate or even playful label that society expects you to wear with pride. But sorry to disappoint you people, doctors would rather be called by their names.

I am not generalizing my kind, but I'd rather leave the title "Doctor" where it belongs - in the hospital, with patients, with acquaintances, during formal or business gatherings, or patient encounters. It's alright to be identified as "Doctor" during casual encounters with strangers,during academic activities, or civic-political necessities society requires. But please, leave my old friends and my family out of it. "Jean" sounds so much sweeter than "Doctor". For these people, I need to be more than my white coat or my stethoscope, or my title - I am me - failures, ugliness, imperfections and all.


The Commuter said...

Totally agree with you!

When people learn the work we do, our entire person becomes replaced by "Doc". I know they mean well. It's just that I want to believe that there's more to me than just being a doctor.

That's why I love family, they call me by my name. And they don't give me any special attention just because I'm a doctor.

And that's why I sometimes keep my profession a "Secret" to the people I meet outside of the profession. I wouldn't want to spoil it.

will said...

my housemates call me doc as well. because they don't know my name. unfair, so i call them ate, kuya, manong, chong, pre, hoy, in return.