* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No, mom, I do not know a good gynecologist to recommend.

I feel like even though my parents go to doctors, they still have no idea what it is a doctor does, and what residency is, and what I learned and didn't learn in medical school, no matter how many times I try to explain. My mom called me last night telling me (in graphic detail) about the gynecological problems of one of her friends, and asked me (a) if I think her doctor is giving her the right treatment, and (b) if I could recommend a better gynecologist for her to see.

I'm not going into gynecology, and my only exposure was a three-week rotation during medical school when I spent most of the time playing with babies and as little time as possible investigating the insides of patients. Nevertheless, my mom expects I'm an expert-- and in fact such an expert that I should be able to diagnose and treat without even seeing the patient or hearing first-hand what her problems are. No, I don't know if that's the right drug, and what the side effects are, and whether she should take it with food.

My mom wanted to know if I'm working with any good doctors now who might be able to see her, even if their specialty isn't gynecology. "A good doctor should be able to do everything," she says. Well, no, that's not any more correct than saying a good athlete should be able to play every sport. And yet it doesn't sink in.

I did what I could do-- which is the same as what her friend could do. I googled her doctor, saw that he went to medical school in Mexico and did his residency in a hospital I'd never heard of, and told my mom to tell her there are probably better-trained doctors out there but given that her problem is pretty minor, she's probably okay sticking with this guy if she likes him. I googled the drug, it seems appropriate for her condition, I guess, but I don't know any more than anyone off the street would.

This is the rest of my life, right? People assuming that because I'm a "doctor," I can solve all of their medical problems, without examining them, and whether or not I have any familiarity at all in the field. If they need surgery, I'm supposed to be able to do it. If they need to deliver a baby, I'm supposed to be able to do it. If they "just don't feel right," I'm supposed to be able to divine what the problem is, over the phone. For free. Right? That's what I've signed up for? What I really want to know is whether there's a billing code for this. Whether "googled someone else's doctor to reassure them he has a license" is something insurance will one day reimburse me for. Then I'd be glad to help.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't you go to a Caribbean med school? How are you different from the Doctor from Mexico? So you must not be a doctor as well.