Inside Doctoring: Stages and Outcomes in the Professional Development of Physicians

By Robert H. Coombs; D. Scott May et al. | Go to book overview

A Short Guide to Doctors

John J. Secondi

Medicine, like every other field these days, is so overspecialized that even a card-carrying doctor like me has trouble telling who's who. The layman, I imagine, is almost helpless to distinguish the forest from the tree surgeons. I have noticed, however, that my colleagues have a tendency to run to type. So, in an effort to clear up the confusion, I have compiled a little list so simple that the most naive patient can spot at a glance which doctor is which.

The General Practitioner: These gentlemen used to be the ones you saw most often, when you lived back in Nebraska and watched the cars go by from your front porch for entertainment. Now they are nearly extinct, like the buffalo and the stork, although there are a few left in a preserve in Iowa. Most of them looked like a cross between Charlie Ruggles and Colonel Sanders; they were warm, wonderful, and always had time for you, even if they slept only three hours a night. They knew you inside and out from the moment they delivered you until their ink dried on your death certificate, and they were always there to help you push your car out of the mud. If anybody knows where there's one of these left, please drop me a note. I could use a good doctor myself.

The Internist: This is a general practitioner with more diplomas on the walls and without house calls. (He also has money in the bank.) By the age of thirty at the latest he becomes obese, sallow, and emphysematous. Usually bald, he is always found sitting and smoking a pipe. (The pipe is a deliberate attempt to evoke the Delphic Oracle, which also simmered and steamed with ideas. The internist is nothing if not oracular.) As opposed to the surgeon, who carries no equipment at all except the keys to his Rolls Royce, the

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