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Latest Posts

Doctor: What’s In A Name?

My friend and fellow blogger David Kroll just wrote an interesting post about the use of “doctor” as a title for a wide range of expertise, including medical. The discussion reminded me of the usual misunderstandings associated with my title…

Typical Val conversation with lay strangers:

Dr. Val: “Hello, I’m Dr. Jones…”

Person: “Oh, hi Dr. Jones. What kind of doctor are you?”

Dr. Val: “A medical doctor.”

Person: “Oh, so you’re like, a pediatrician?”

Dr. Val: “No, my specialty is rehabilitation medicine.”

Person: “Oh, my uncle has a drug problem. He’s been in and out of rehab for years. I’m so glad that there are people like you willing to help addicts.”

Dr. Val: “Uh… Well, actually my specialty is focused on physical rehabilitation – like patients with spinal cord injuries, amputations, strokes, car accidents, etc…”

Person: “Oh, so you’re a physical therapist?”

Dr. Val: “No, I’m a physician. But I work closely with physical therapists.”

Person: “So you’re a REAL doctor?”

Dr. Val: “Yes, I went to Columbia Medical School…”

Person: “Well, you don’t LOOK like a doctor.” [See example here]

Dr. Val: “Uh… thanks?”


Dr. Val: “Mom, why don’t people believe I’m a medical doctor?”

Dr. Val’s Mother: “Well, you picked an oddball specialty, dear.”

Dr. Val: “What’s oddball about helping the disabled population?”

Dr. Val’s Mother: “Well, you know ‘rehabilitation’ usually conjures up ideas of drug rehab.”

Dr. Val: “Yeah, my specialty has the weakest PR in all of medicine. Nobody knows what we do.”

Dr. Val’s Mother: “At least people don’t think you’re a hypnotist.”

Dr. Val: “What?”

Dr. Val’s Mother: “Did I ever tell you about the time I was on an elevator with someone at a Spanish literature convention?”

Dr. Val: “Uh…”

Dr. Val’s Mother: “My tag said ‘Dr. Sonia Jones, member of the American Association of Hispanists.’ A woman in the elevator with me was staring at my name tag and finally blurted: ‘Are you here with the convention?’ And I said, ‘yes.’ And then she responded: ‘Could you hypnotize me too?!’”

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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