Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is your speciality?

"What is your speciality?"

I was attending a Party in a relative's house in a City far away from my workplace. I had to face this question more than once that night. I was speechless for a moment.

I am asked that question whenever I am among strangers not connected to Medical profession and always find it difficult to make people understand my area of work.

Should I say I am a General Physician?

Then they will say 'Oh you are a General Practitioner" which is not quite correct though many consider us as glorified General Practitioners.

Should I say I am an Internist?

Then they will ask what that is and I will have to explain that an internist is a doctor who specializes in identifying and treating diseases which do not need surgery. Many will still not understand.

Sometimes I say I am a Diabetologist. I have trained myself to be one and most of my patients are Diabetics thanks to high incidence of Diabetes in Kerala.

But am I just a Diabetologist?

No I do not want to be considered only as a Diabetologist. I also had some training in Rheumatology and also in HIV/AIDS.

Many well wishers have asked me why you are not concentrating on one sub-speciality/super-speciality.

"Why don't you take a DM in Cardiology or Neurology? You can earn double for the same amount of work"


But I never wanted to confine myself to one organ or organ system. Also after spending almost 10 yrs in training in Medicine I did not want another 3 years in Medical College. Being an MD in Internal Medicine I believed I am competent enough to tackle most of the cases that come to me. I could also work in smaller towns without much infrastructure unlike a sub-specialist. I also felt that work of an Internist is more exciting, dealing with a large variety of disease conditions.

So I never tried for a DM.

We the Internists always used to say jokingly that a Sub-specialist [we never call them super-specialist] is a doctor who knows more and more about less and less. Sub-specialists will say we are just jealous.

Now after 14 years of practice as an Internist, when I look back I do not have any regrets.

But I am still speechless when that question is asked.

"What is your speciality?"

6 comments:

Nimmy said...

:) I can understand...The blame goes on our pseudo social status system,where cardiologists,gynecologists etc are seen on higher strata than physician or anesthesiasist ( how do you spell it :) )

Be happy with what you are and what you do..Just don't bother about irks,for they have no better job in life...

Charakan said...

Nimmy,
yes I do not bother much. But still I always find it difficult explaining what I actually do to lay persons.
Hope you will update your blog soon.

dr.antony said...

Thirty years in to the practice,and having passed through a time when it was very easy to do a DM,and not opted it,I have faced this question more often than you.
To be honest with you,we have to accept the fact that it is easier to do a specialty practice.
As physicians,we have to give the same management to our cardiac patients and the same quality of care to the neuro patients.We are allowed no excuses.
I deal with at least a dozen MI patients a week and deal with their complications.And they all go to promptly to a cardiologist at the end.
This is life and we have to accept it.

Charakan said...

Dr Antony,
"To be honest with you,we have to accept the fact that it is easier to do a specialty practice"
Agree also more lucarative too.

Since there are many Cardilogists around I do not take care of acute Cardiology emergencies. My patients usually come back to me after visiting the sub specialist. Those patients who cannot be fitted into a speciality is a real challenge and I relish that.

monsoon dreams said...

Hi,
Everytime someone asks me that question,I say in my mind," You too,Brutus?".Then I smile like a fool and let the ignorant one feel like he won.

Charakan said...

Monsoon dreams, welcome here

Yes, that is a good response to such questions