I was at the grocery store awhile ago, maskless and reckless before the days of COVID. I was innocently browsing in the fresh vegetable section when I suddenly heard a loud OHMIGOD! What are YOU doing here?! I swear I almost jumped a foot. I then turned around to see a patient of mine, smiling broadly with a look of general astonishment. It was as if she had just seen an exotic animal out of it’s cage for the first time. I chuckled inside. Was she serious? Was there more than one reason for someone to go to the grocery store? I struggled for a minute to come up with a clever and quippy answer like “It’s my butler’s day off” or something otherwise brilliant. Instead, I merely fired back with a mundane “Well, I needed groceries I guess, ” somewhat disappointed in myself. She definitely seemed disappointed. I am not sure what answer she expected, but, whatever it was, it was a better one than I gave. I felt like I really let her down somehow. It was as if I killed my celebrity status with one sentence. Celebrity?! Me?! Sorry. No celebrities here. I am just a regular gal with no servants or accessory personnel to help me plod through the day to day. I still cook, clean, do yardwork, maintain a full time job, the whole shebang.
I guess the question really is, are doctors supposed to be celebrities? I don’t mean the actual celebrities like Dr. Oz or the cast of The Doctors. Those are obvious. I mean the rest of us. What does the word celebrity even mean? According to Webster’s dictionary, the term celebrity refers to the fame and wide pubic recognition of an individual, group, or a particular animal as a result of the attention given to them by the mass media. Celebrity status is often associated with having wealth. It also says that people may become celebrities due to media attention on their lifestyle, wealth, controversial actions, or for a connection to a famous person. If this is the criteria that we are using, then I definitely do not qualify. To date, I have no mass media attention, (for anything good or bad), I have not been the pinnacle of controversy, and I definitely do not possess any excess of wealth(lol), and I do not know anyone famous. Somehow, I find that reassuring. I am just fine with being a regular person. I do not walk around thinking of myself as better than anybody. I think this makes me more relatable to patients. I actually find it concerning when physicians start to become consumed with recognition and status. I think that it detracts from the true purpose of our position as caregivers. How can we possibly do our jobs to the best of our ability if we are constantly plotting our path to fame? The answer is: we can’t. It is my personal belief that the best quality physicians do what they do just because they love it. Let me be clear. I am not saying it’s a terrible thing to get recognized for doing something well. I am only saying that the possibility of recognition shouldn’t be the only motivation for doing it. Have a fantastic day!