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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?!'”

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2 Responses to “Doctor: What’s In A Name?”

  1. If we’re going to be fair about it I also managed to alienate an actress, an attorney and really smart girls in tech.

    In my defense, I’ve never pretended to be more than shallow…

  2. Strong One says:

    GEE.. I think I know how that feels?…the public’s mis-informed opinion??
    HHmm.. sounds very familiar. *wink*

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