This question, is one that I have been on the receiving end of ever since I was unenviably assigned the ‘Dr’ prefix. Little did I know, the gravity of those two seemingly minuscule alphabets when I happily threw my hat in the air on graduation day which was followed by an extremely mature and sagacious celebration at night, exemplified by utter and complete inebriation.
For all practice purposes, I’m not a doctor. I haven’t so much as seen a patient since 2014, nor do I have any inclination to do so in the foreseeable future. I’m more purportedly, as the corporate world puts it, a healthcare professional which can encompass pretty much anyone that can so much as spell the word ‘fever’. Most professionals, are not expected to know every fact under the sun nor every permutation or combination known to man. However, unlike most professionals, doctors are not seen in the same light. They are viewed as reservoirs of information that can magically summon up anything and everything on God’s holy earth and beyond, be it by relatives, patients or anyone in between.
The absolute gems thus far have been, but aren’t limited to:
- “My dog is vomiting what should I do?”Me: Do I look like Dr Doolittle? Her response: You studied medicine and even humans vomit; a vet is just an animal doctor.
- “One of the top Cardiologists has put me on (insert vague brand name here) what should I do?”Why the hell did you go to him in the first place if you were going ask me anyway? The poor guy studied for years to get where he is.
- “I’ve tried everything that the best specialists have told me to do but why isn’t it working?”If I understood the minute intricacies of the universe I’d be sitting in a corner office making pot loads of money not wasting my time with you!
- “How much does a CT scan cost in ‘this’ hospital?”Do I look like JustDial?
- Old aunts: “My cholesterol is always high, why are my medications not working?”Me: “Have you been taking them every day as prescribed?” Aunt: “I take them on some days, why don’t you do something, you went to medical college?” In my mind: I went to St John’s not Hogwarts.
- “My friend has a headache and was prescribed a tablet, what’s the problem?”If I could decipher complex biological nuances based on minimalistic information like that they’d call me Dr. Strange not Dr. D’Souza.
Short of being asked the diameter of an earthworm’s anus, I think I’ve been asked every biology related query known to man. Yes, this is a satire and no, I certainly don’t have even a fraction of the answers but the fact of the matter is that there is an information overload in medicine and we have to be cognisant of the fact that everyone has access to information at their fingertips. There is even a campaign by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) called ‘Too Much Medicine’, which is ironic given they add to the headache on a monthly basis. In a world full of opinions and where everyone has a voice this data deluge is but obvious (Ironic coming from a twat writing a blog).
No average human brain can assimilate this much information, unless you attempt powdering and snorting an NEJM on a daily basis. The rate of burnout in medical school and clinical practice is going up at a tremendous rate as students attempt to keep up. Clinicians not only have to cope with heaps and heaps of literature released on a near hourly basis but also a corresponding increase in the general expectation, of the well read patients and public alike, that doctors keep abreast with the latest clinical evidence. At this rate we may sooner rather than later hear the words that most clinicians dread:
“Siri will see you now!”