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Being a doctor and always being "on"

Living in a big city, the chances that I'll ever run into one of my doctors is slim (though I did once see my PA in the dollar section of Target), so it's difficult to imagine the concept of the small-town doc whom everyone knows. I was intrigued, then, by a column over on the Mothers in Medicine blog today, where a family practice physician from the Midwest candidly reveals the downside of being in a place where, well, everyone knows your name: 

When I'm in public, I feel that I am always "on."  When I'm at the store I might be greeted by the dad of a baby I just delivered, or be questioned about a new medicine, or be updated on a cough.  I know, though, that this is to be expected, especially as I take care of many people that I've known since before I started medical school.

In a community this size, being a doctor is like being a minor celebrity.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that hundreds of people know which day I have off, or where I went for vacation this summer and when.  Often it seems that just when I am starting to relax or spend time with my family, I will hear the call, "DoctorGrace!"  I find I can't be anything less than pleasant and professional when I'm "on duty," and I feel that I'm on duty nearly all the time that I'm physically present here.

Though not every physician serves as a modern-day Doc Baker, as this blogger appears to, I suspect that the need to be careful about how one acts in public, and the sense that one's spontaneity and sense of fun is gone (the main theme of her blog entry) apply to many of those who practice medicine.

Previously: A reminder to young physicians that when it comes to social media, “it’s no longer about you”

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