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America’s Most Honored (Insert Your Profession Here)

Dana Corriel, MD, ponders about the legitimacy of ventures touting “best of”. What are the practices by which one arrives at the conclusion that someone is best?

Year after year, practically the same email lands inside my inbox, and causes me pause.

It goes something like this:

“Dear Dr. Corriel (though it just as often calls me by my first name),

“We’ve combed through millions of recognitions to identify those who have been awarded more than others.”

(side note: I can only imagine a crew of these guys sitting around a back room, with their computer monitors on, “combing” the internet and looking at my accolades. Really screams 100% truth.. I’m being cynical, of course)

The “personalized” email continues:

“Your numerous professional accolades have placed you at the top of the registry, an elite group.”

(side note: right there, on the top, alongside the president of the United States, Kim Kardashian, and Oprah.)

 

Here’s where the email winds down and really knocks the accolade-sales pitch out of the park:

“Your awards sets you apart from all the competition. They validate. They build trust. They grow your business.”

(side note: oldest tactic in the book: butter up to a potential paying client before you rob them blind).

(another side note: I don’t practice clinically. I stopped practicing about 3 years ago, to take on digital innovation and the SoMeDocs venture full-time. So… you probably get why I mention this..)

 

I used to wonder what it was that made me deserving of such an honor.

“America’s most honored doctor”, it read.

*Gee* I’d typically sigh, pausing to contain the pride swelling inside of me.

If only it weren’t for the extreme paranoia I’ve developed over the years (seemingly the result of a combination of factors which include: 1) having been an immigrant and 2) having dabbled in the deep & murky entrepreneurial waters for a number of few years), I’d likely have fallen for the entire thing.

The email always contained a plaque, to help me visualize how the title would look on my office wall.

I’m sure that including the imagery helps many of us truly envision it, in all of its glory; with our name shining brightly inside of that standout plaques. That’s what the image is meant to do, at least.

At the root of these “honorary” emails are pure solicitations and aspirations for financial gains. Many of these companies’ titles and plaques are sent to everyone, in actuality.

Which means this: that whatever honorary title gets bestowed onto me is the one that I choose, based on the transaction I complete (ie after I pay for the bestowing I’d the title of my choice).

“I’ll take America’s most lovable mother, for $1,000 please.”

“Add a Most Lovable Wife in there, too, please, and could we make it $1500 for both??”

 

Which means this: that whatever honorary title gets bestowed onto me is the one that I choose, based on a completed transaction (after I pay). 'I'll take America's most lovable mother for $1,000 please.' Click To Tweet

 

Now it’s time to play a game.

Let’s envision this company at its infancy, back in the wee days before America had them to count on, to carefully select the BEST who walk amongst us.

I can just picture the founders now, nestled in front of their fireplace, or conjuring up the plan during their shared meal.

It likely went something like this:

Most Honored Businessman 1: “Hey, let’s start a business telling people that they’re really awesome.”

Most Honored Businessman 2: “Yes! Great idea! Who do you think will have extra money, though, to spend on a random plaque that says something we randomly made up?”

*silence as both honored businessmen think through the juicy bits of their plot*

*eye contact, as both Honored men realize they’ve hit eureka with the same exact thought*

“Doctors!” Most Honored Businessman 1 and Most Honored Businessman 2 shout together in unison.

It’s not the first such venture to do this. Such tactics have been underway for quite some time, and throughout history. The titles these ventures bestow on us make us feel special, and we then use those titles to help market what we do.

It’s no different in medicine, really.

So how do we identify real quality, versus purely financial ventures that seek to make a buck off of a plaque?

Even more importantly, how do patients accurately discern what’s real and what isn’t, where it comes to the titles given to healers?

 

So how do we identify real quality, versus purely financial ventures that seek to make a buck off of a plaque? Even more importantly, how do patients accurately discern what’s real and what isn’t, where it comes to the titles given to… Click To Tweet

 

I really don’t have the answer. Because right now, we don’t.

But I do think it’s time we raised that question so that, at the least, we’re aware that this happens, and we can all then discuss.

Or at least have ourselves a good laugh.

 

Sincerely,

America’s Most Honored Doctor

 

PS I AM a damn good doctor. Just in case that’s ever in question.

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