Saturday, November 3, 2007

Inappropriate Familiarity?

So, thanks to a very nice and very dedicated social worker who I knew back when I was 12, I had a meeting with the head of the CF department at Duke Medical Center last week. Hopefully, I will be able to work with them in some way soon but that isn't the point of this post!

When I was leaving the room, saying my "thank you"s and "we'll be in touch"s, the last thing I proclaimed as I left the room was "Thanks, Guys!" They gave me funny look and I went on my way.

When I got to the parking deck, I thought back on that moment. That was inappropriate familiarity, wasn't it? They are DOCTORS and possible future employers--should I refrain from being so casual?

I know where it comes from. I have spent so much of my adult life feeling less-than because I don't have a degree, certainly don't have a PhD, and processing all of what that means in this society. During my last terminal illness, I came to understand my value and that it has nothing to do with a degree.

When I went back into "The Well World" the feelings of inferiority came rushing back--I was immersing my self in a world of high degrees; doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists etc... Over time, I have gotten to know many of these people that I had once intimidated me and I no longer think they are superior. I think I am just as smart as them, usually less trained, but no less intelligent. So, now I am unsure of my boundaries.

If I see you as vastly "better" than me I will be awkward and shy. If I see you as equal to me, I will be casual and more relaxed. I suppose I need to find the middle ground between "I'm not worthy" and "See ya later, dudes!"

It's a weird world out there and, in many ways, I'm still feeling my way through the basics.


Midlife Midwife said...

Hey girlfriend. You have the best education around...a PhD in the school of hard knocks. Don't sell yourself short. Later Dude!

Jen! said...

I don't see why doctors or anyone else with PhDs should be treated differently then the rest of the world.

But then again, I'm one of those people who think that people who go to India to work with the poor or who help educate kids in the inner cities of America should be on magazine covers, not pretty people who happen to have a talent for acting or singing. Call me crazy.

Femail doc said...

I struggle with a similar thing, opposite direction I guess, with patients. I always introduce myself with my first and last name. On average, then, I call patients by their first name and they are free to call me by mine. I still use Mrs., Mr. etc. with people more than a decade older than me. I certainly don't feel like I should have to be Dr. P to anyone.

That said, I must admit I am taken aback with waitresses, salespeople, etc. far younger than I say to me and my gray-haired husband "Thanks guys." Neither do I like anyone any age calling me dear who's not prepared to send me a birthday card. Being deared, sweetied, and honeyed makes me feel old.

Well I think I just talked myself into thinking it's an age thing, not an educational job status thing. And maybe also a how-well-do-you-know-me thing.

Garry said...

You know, sometimes we take ourselves way too seriously. I have my doctorate, but I seldom call myself Dr. to people, because it implicitly sets up a hierarchy with me (supposedly) at the top. That feels wrong and classist. My PhD is a tool, nothing more and nothing less, to do the job I have. And it is no better or no worse than the tools that other people use in their jobs.

I guess I always figured that if I cannot gain a person's respect by who I am as a person, adding a few letters before or after my name will not do it.