fbpx

The Doctor (Identity) Crisis

Jimmy Henry MD explains that your identity should be in your purpose as a person, not in your performance as a physician.

May 15, 2023

Who are YOU?

Many doctors are greeted by their patients as Dr LASTNAME. And by their nurses, assistants, or ancillary staff as the same. And by their administrators, industry colleagues, and community members in the same manner. Actually, everyone you encounter identifies you as DOCTOR first, except your family and very close friends. DOCTOR basically becomes like your first name.

You know what, I take that back. Some family members like to make sure everyone knows that you’re a doctor. When family introduces you to strangers, isn’t it always as DOCTOR?!?

Honestly, I loathed when patients called me only by my first name, neglecting to address me properly. I insisted that they call me DOCTOR because that’s who I am, right?

 

I loathed when patients called me only by my first name, neglecting to address me properly. I insisted that they call me DOCTOR because that's who I am, right? Click To Tweet

 

You worked hard, cried tears, sweat blood, and paid thousands, all to sign your identity away and assume this persona of DOCTOR. You know, fully equipped with the doctor talk and the doctor walk. You can often spot another doctor a mile away, with their Northface fleece, Dansko clogs, and Starbucks latte.

Since others identify you as DOCTOR first, and you identify as DOCTOR first, you lose sight of who you truly are. You lose the essence of your identity before you became doctors. Instead, you submit to this uniformity at the expense of your individuality.

The pandemic brought many latent issues to light, and as the world became more informed about trauma, there has been more awareness surrounding the doctor crisis and physician burnout. A helpful exercise in therapy at times is to address the version of you at the time of your trauma, to heal your inner child.

 

“You can often spot another doctor a mile away, with their Northface fleece, Dansko clogs, and Starbucks latte.”

 

The real doctor crisis may be internal rather than external, related to our identity more than our institutions. For physicians, our traumas often occur beyond childhood, often in rapid succession during our career development. Remember, the YOU then, is the inner YOU now.

You are a persistent premed student, who made it through STEM curriculum designed to discourage the casual dreamer and intended to weed out the chosen from the wannabees…

You are a junior medical student, who endured grueling courses and frequent examinations, sacrificing your present for your future, while conducting animal experiments and dissecting human cadavers…

You are a senior medical student, who was ridiculed by everyone more senior that you (including the nurses) for being short on knowledge, out of place, and out of sorts (like your short white coat) as you rotated through hospital units like an orphan in search of a home…

You are an impressionable intern, who tolerated being hazed like an NFL rookie in training camp, but for much longer, while being “pimped” by the attendings you aspired to be as you were prostituted as an expert in digital rectal examinations…

You are a resilient resident struggling to manage life and work, watching your contemporaries living life unencumbered while you and your colleagues forget what normal life is like in between taking call and taking cover…

 

(NEW interactive group)
Doctor Side Ventures

Doctors today are doing SO MANY things on the side. Join an exclusive Facebook community (for medical docs, dentists, podiatrists) to discuss everything from publishing, to real estate, to ways we build wealth or satisfy our extracurricular needs (& stay happy).

 

You are a chief resident or fellow, second-guessing your career path and questioning your ability, but you’ve invested too much time and energy to turn back now; so you forge ahead to the guiding light at the end of the tunnel only to be greeted by a dumpster fire instead…

You are an academic attending, who is juggling the responsibilities of teaching, research, publishing, and committees, while battling bureaucracy and wondering if your position is as secure as you assumed it to be…

You are a private practice physician, who is juggling the responsibilities of marketing, billing, human resources, and customer service, while loathing autonomy as you calculate the cost of the price you paid for your imaginary emancipation…

You are a medical martyr willing to advocate for your patients against insurance companies, big pharma, and other agencies whose agendas keep you burned out and buried under student loans, electronic documentation, and prior authorizations…

You are a devout doctor who took an oath to do no harm, so you take it personally when any harm occurs to patients on your watch, even if it was out of your control…

 

“You are a devout doctor who took an oath to do no harm, so you take it personally when any harm occurs to patients on your watch, even if it was out of your control…”

 

You are a kind-hearted and selfless soul, whose love language is acts of service; whose generosity is taken advantage of and whose boundaries are habitually ignored for more demands of your time, to which you could never reply ‘No’…

You are a whole human, who finds it challenging to process feelings because you’ve been conditioned to only process thoughts and to compartmentalize your emotions, so that the next patient doesn’t feel the fallout from the last one…

You are a high-achieving, problem-solving, critical-thinking, do-it-all, who is stuck on how to get unstuck, unfulfilled in all your accomplishments and isolated from help because you’ve distanced yourself from ever receiving it…

Before you endured anything described above, YOU were YOU.

Your identity should be in your purpose as a person, not in your performance as a physician. When in crisis, take time to engage in self-reflection, self-exploration, and self-discovery. You are more than a DOCTOR. You are YOU.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

Of Interest

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

[SERIES] Stigmatized

Coming Soon: Stigmatized [SERIES]

Coming Soon: Dr. Jay Joshi hosts this limited time series, in which he brings other healthcare professionals to the discussion table, to cover a stigmatizing topic.

[SERIES] Stigmatized

Coming Soon: Stigmatized [SERIES]

Coming Soon: Dr. Jay Joshi hosts this limited time series, in which he brings other healthcare professionals to the discussion table, to cover a stigmatizing topic.

Jamian Reed, DO

Jamian Reed, DO

Introducing Psychodynamic Osteopathy to find health of body, mind, and spirit.

Alina Olteanu, MD, PhD

Alina Olteanu, MD, PhD

Preventing chronic diseases, including mental health struggles, starts in childhood! Healthy children grow into health adults!

Uday Khosla, MD

Uday Khosla, MD

I am a nephrologist who focuses on developing businesses that support physician independence and improve the healthcare experience for both patients and physicians.

Want More?

Be a part of our healthcare revolution. Don't miss a thing SoMeDocs publishes!

Disclaimer: SoMeDocs assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, claims, or content of the individual experts' profiles, contributions and courses. Details within posts cannot be verified. This site does not represent medical advice and you should always consult with your private physician before taking on anything you read online. See SoMeDocs' Terms of Use for more information.

follow us

© 2024 SoMeDocs. All Rights Reserved.

Soak up our content & grow

Earn CME

Drop your email address below and we’ll email you the link for earning CME (through CMEfy). Please check your spam folder if you do not receive our email. We’ll also add you to our Sunday newsletter, so you can earn more CME credits reading our content!

Support A Platform that Celebrates Real Doctors

For just $10 a month, you can help keep this openly accessible site available to all & help us sponsor in more doctors.

Interested in subscribing
to our unique content?

Interested in subscribing to our unique content?

I acknowledge that this site is not to be used for medical advice.

Play Video
Our Founder Answers Your BURNING Question

SoMeDocs

“Why should I become a member of SoMeDocs if I already have my own space online?”

Site SoMeDocs Logo, square

WANT TO STAY IN THE LOOP?

DON'T MISS A SINGLE CONTENT PIECE.