I am not your doctor… Reminders from a friend.

As a medical student, I learned that most of the people I know assume I am a doctor already.  And I was not.  And I liked to point that out.  It was almost strangely comforting.

Now, those people point out that I pretty much am a doctor and it is just a few weeks and a piece of paper standing in my way.  Suddenly people think I am more legit.  I am not, really.  That is where these somewhat cynical reminders come in…

Most people do not like talking about work when they go home.  I actually do love my job and enjoy talking about it.  But that does not mean that everyone else around me does.  Ask questions with judgment with regards to who we are with and where we are. And it definitely doesn’t mean I can share every detail because of this little concept called patient confidentiality.  Therefore, please stop asking me if so and so was in today or about how such and such from down the road is doing.  Go and ask them yourself.  I can’t tell you.

Even when I become a doctor, odds are, I will not be your doctor.  Plus, I will be an oncologist, so most people do not want to come anywhere near me.  I do not have a waiting list.  I cannot take you as a patient on the side.  I appreciate the interest, but it is just not possible for the most part.  And you would still have to wait another 5ish years.

Image via CartoonStock.com

On the same note, I am not your doctor, I am your friend (or family member or neighbor or customer, etc.).  So, as much as I love to help out and don’t mind suggesting over the counter things or taking a look at something when you are concerned, you still need to see a real doctor.  I really don’t mind helping out, but there are people who get paid to do that… And in this lovely country, it is paid for.  So please, go see your real doctor.  Especially when I tell you multiple times it would be a good idea to see your real doctor.

I know nothing about animals.  Aside from a few fish, I have never had a pet.  Thus, I am a really, really bad person to ask about your cat or dog’s mysterious symptoms.

Again, as much as I love helping, there are times when it is not at all appropriate.  Please don’t show me that questionable wound at dinner.  It doesn’t gross me out, but poor Patrick is probably throwing up a little in his mouth.  Actually, I probably have enough morbid curiosity to take a look.  But, some times are really not cool.  And really, if it can’t wait, refer to the previous point and go to your real doctor.  If it can and you really, really want me to… I will look at it, but don’t be shocked if I tell you to get it checked out.

Different people have different opinions and different levels of expertise.  At this point, my level of knowledge is not expertise in any area.  Thus, although I can say something is a good drug, I am not going to question (at least not too much unless I think you will die) the judgment of another physician.  It isn’t cool.  And I would probably be wrong.  Because everyone else has trained a million more years.  So, talk to them.

On a training note, I am not a real doctor.  Even with a doctor in front of my name.  I can’t prescribe or open my own practice.  I still need to be supervised, less so, but still supervised.    Also, my area of expertise to be may not be very helpful in some of the common household issues.  Thus, I will tell you to go see a real doctor, with a real license.

I firmly believe in the healthcare system.  So, I will send my children to doctors.  And my other family members.  Unless it is a crazy emergency and even then I will do what I can on the way to the hospital.  Therefore, I am not treating you or your kid under the table, let alone my own.  Please stop asking if I will.

Everyone makes mistakes.  So, when I do or say something stupid, please refrain from judging others or me as the entire medical profession.  We are human.  Just like you.

I am a normal person.  I am pretty sure this blog is showing that.  I have a family and a life and outside interests.  Please respect my boundaries like I try to respect yours.  And don’t be so shocked when I do normal people things.  Remember, normal person.

I know this may be a bit crass, but I think it is a good reminder that the professionals in life are people too.  We have limitations and lives and rules to abide by that may not always be convenient. There are times when seeping wounds and gastric upset are okay to talk about, but every once in awhile (I will admit it is rare with me) I just want to talk about food or books.  Honestly, with my really close friends, anything goes.  But, it ends with the people that I would tell the same sorts of things to.  And again, I love to help people whenever, wherever, but there are rules and limits for a reason.  And part of that reason is sanity (with other pieces including legislation and ethics).

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10 thoughts on “I am not your doctor… Reminders from a friend.

  1. What a well written piece! Doctors are not the only people who are expected to give free counsel. As a former Human Resource executive, I would get cornered at parties to listen to a tale of woe that was happening somewhere with employees. I was expected to have the solution in less than a minute. I would explain that they should do a formal investigate to get all the facts and be sure not to break any laws and oh yes, have another drink because for sure that will help them forget — at least for tonight.

    • Thanks!
      Wow, the being cornered at parties is ridiculous… Though, I do like the “have another drink because for sure that will help them forget.”

  2. My aunts are already asking my fiance for medical advice. He does the same thing–takes a look at the body part in question and then says something like, “Yes, it looks like you’ll need to see your doctor.”

  3. I wish I could tell you it gets better. The only thing that’s worse is family members who confirm their own doctors’ advice with you – and then promptly ignore both of you.

  4. Pingback: House call… Unusual medical encounters not at work. « At least we made it this far…

  5. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge: 2AM Photo | At least we made it this far...

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