My friends have recently started calling me “Dr. Dave.” It feels rather odd. I always considered people who insist on being called “Dr.” in public to be really obnoxious. I know they’re just being endearing, so this is definitely different, and with such common names they need some identifier to distinguish me, but it is still weird to feel defined by your work in a social setting.
It changes the social dynamic. It won’t change anything for people who have known me for a while, but it can certainly affect the interaction with every new person I meet. Could you imagine? How would you start a conversation with someone that everyone calls “Dr. Dave?” Medicine is one of those fields that threatens to completely take over your life as it is, so it would be nice if I could be incognito every once in a while. At the very least I can pretend to be like someone else.
That is not to say that it isn’t nice finally being called a doctor professionally. Inside the hospital, finally being called doctor (and not by mistake), and actually introducing myself as doctor to every patient, at the beginning of every phone call, and to everyone while I’m working creates it’s own high. It immediately says, “I have something important to say.” I usually don’t feel like people are blowing me off or anything, but being a medical student all these years certainly had their effect. The change feels magical. I didn’t feel like anything changed right when I graduated, but after working as a “doctor” for just a few days, I now feel like everything has changed. Even me.
The truth is, when my friends called me “Dr. Dave,” what bothered me the most is the fact that it didn’t bother me all that much. Someone asked me today what I did, and I surprised myself when I simply answered, “I’m a doctor.” Why didn’t I say I was a resident? Why did my impulse answer that way?
It was a reminder that I’m changing.