A Doctor Named Lucy

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Dear Doctor . . .


Everyone who deals with


you –personally or  


professionally– already


KNOWS you’re a doctor.



Dear Doctor, On behalf of all those people who visit and speak with you, and who deal with you on a personal and/or business level –but who think they need to choose to be intimidated by you– please do all of them (and your professional self, and of course your healthcare practice) a really big favor:

Acknowledge, and act, and speak the truth.

Be a real person.

Don’t cast your title to the wind. You’ve worked hard for it. You’ve earned it. It’s something to be proud of. But you know what? Healthcare is serious enough. Lighten up a little and watch what happens!

Step down from the pedestal that those who surround you all day put you on (“Yes, Doctor”; “No, Doctor”; “Whatever you say, Doctor”). As you communicate with businesspeople, remember that –not very unlike many of them—  you are a regular person with special knowledge and special skills.

Those attributes do not make you a special person. This is not a come-uppance rant. This is reality. I have had the privilege of working personally with nearly 2,000 doctors in the last 30 years as a practice development consultant and as a personal and professional counselor. Here are some things I learned:

Doctors are bred to have their heads in the clouds. That they are all people who excel academically is not in dispute. That doctors who wallow in their achievements is not only distasteful to others, it also serves to undermine healthcare practice success by pulling the rug out from under the mainstays of patient and referrer loyalty.

Only you, dear doctor, can make yourself a special person by the ways that you communicate with your patients and their families, your office and professional staff, detail reps, practice development people, consultants, staff trainers, equipment and e-system suppliers, hospital personnel and affiliate operatives, insurance providers, local media people, and the communities you serve . . . oh, and perhaps the hardest of all entities: other doctors.

When a doctor is called “doctor,” it is more out of habit and fear than out of respect. Doctors who gain the most respect are those who introduce themselves by their first names. Many people unconsciously process the ways they size up doctors who flaunt their titles as being insecure, self-indulgent, and insensitive.

Well, yes, doctor, you do make a point: it is true that you deal with human lives and with issues involving physical, mental, and emotional well-being and so need to separate yourself as a professional in the patient’s eyes.

But you also know as well as anyone that the less stressed a patient and family tend to be, the quicker the path to healing and recovery. Titles are pompous and unnecessary barricades to free-flowing communications. Anything that short-circuits communications flow can create stress and anxiety, and misunderstandings..

Excel instead at the ways you present yourself and your ideas and findings and suggestions and recommendations. Excel at “bedside manners.” Excel at how you present yourself to the outside world, to how you are (forgive the crassness) “packaged.”

Find people who are as professionally skilled at marketing and writing and persuading as you are at medicine.

Straight from the shoulder: Do NOT rely on the ideas or execution of ideas put forth by loving, well-intrentioned spouses or office managers or in-laws, or parents, children, med-school classmates, your neighbor’s 17-year-old computer whiz or some SEO “expert” who jumped into your Facebook page.

DOCTORS: Want some free tips? Seeking help fining respectful experts? Proven practice development steps? Call or email me and let’s chat. No fees for getting acquainted.

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