Why I Don’t Like Letting Strangers Know That I’m a Doctor

When it comes to people knowing my occupation, it’s something I’m not comfortable about. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my job or anything, it’s more that I fear the reactions I get, and feeling like I’m put on the spot. I don’t like it when I’m put on the spot.

Upon others knowing I’m a doctor, the reaction received is a kind of awe I get from others. It’s happened when I’ve been introduced by friends to others with “he’s a doctor by the way” or when others ask me what I do for a living. Either way, the reaction is immediate, and I can feel that feeling of respect placed upon me for what I do as a job.  The reactions are a palpable expression, where the other person has a micro pause, and then they are genuinely interested in what I do, asking what field of medicine I’m in, and whether it was hard work etc. This was the same when telling others I was a medical student. Compare this to when I was a Bachelor of Science student, and the reactions were nowhere near as palpable and obvious. In those days, I’d just get a quick acknowledgement, and then on to another topic. None of the questions about what area in science I was studying, or whether it was hard work etc. It made the feeling that being a doctor was special.

Mind you however, I don’t feel that special in what I do. And I’m not trying to sound elitist in what I say, because I genuinely do feel that I’m just doing any other job; a job I was trained to do through education, and on the job learning. In other words, a job essentially anyone can be trained to do if they have put in the time and effort. It just happens that the job I’m trained to do, is to help people, no different from any other job like a policeman, a bank teller, an IT technician, or a hair dresser. They all help people. But it’s likely that the doctor is held in a more esteemed position, due to the way people are helped – by treating serious illnesses, relieving suffering, and from having a lot of in depth medical knowledge; we’re seen as people who are doing something noble and honourable by treating ailments, diseases, and suffering.

The contrast in reactions I received were really something that was initially very surprising, but now has now made me somewhat apprehensive. I feel that many times, I’m being put on a pedestal, and I really don’t like being placed on a pedestal, because I’m sure I’ll probably fall off. I want to be seen as an equal with others, and not be placed on a higher social ranking or anything just based on my job.

When it comes to these kind of interactions, I try and divert the attention away from myself as quickly as possible, asking the other person what they do, and then exploring their job with questions and curiosity at hand. I feel it helps to take a lot of the attention away when I do this, but I admit, it could come across as a bit peculiar.

Have you been in a similar situation with such responses? How do you deal with them?

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