Feb 2003 Table of Contents

LETTERS

Fam Pract Manag. 2003 Feb;10(2):14-17.

What’s in a name? A lot, apparently.

To the Editor:

Dr. Dale Glenn hit the proverbial nail on the head [“What’s in a Name?” November/December 2002, page 18]. There is a lot of debate going on in my “family practice” residency right now about changing the name to “family medicine.” I believe we are at a crossroads, one that will determine how we are perceived not only by the general population but also by our peers. We must undergo a transformation from our current system of training and nomenclature to a more modern and up-to-date specialty. I think we need to pursue the same course that internal medicine did about two years ago when they started sending out brochures to practices touting the idea that internal medicine was “adult medicine.” That was a public relations pitch to enlighten patients that IMs practice medicine on adults only, not children. It is time we touted our medicine skills as well.

To the Editor:

I am a doctor or a physician, not a “practitioner” or “manager.” My business card says Board Certified Family Physician, and there’s an MD after my name. It’s confusing enough that nurse practitioners “aren’t really doctors” to some patients while others see them as “doctors who aren’t paid like doctors.” I don’t need people confusing me with a nurse practitioner.

To the Editor:

"What’s in a Name?” struck a chord with me. For years, I have advocated using the title Family Physician, capital letters and all, which is the most apt and accurate term for who I am and what I do. The larger, underlying implication of the editorial is the lack of equality and importance that some Family Physicians feel due to confusion about the name our discipline uses. The patients who come to me and my Family Physician colleagues feel that we are “their” doctor. They trust us to take excellent care of them, and they respect our knowledge and expertise. Our referrals to sub-specialists for more complex problems, or for procedural interventions we do not handle, also make patients feel more comfortable that we do not pretend to know everything. I do not feel discriminated against or looked down upon. My patients trust me and my judgment, and they want me to stay in my practice. What greater reward can a physician ask for, whatever the name?

To the Editor:

Sadly, if we are to stand out, we must drop the “practitioner” from our name and pick another, more impressive-sounding one. How about: “Obstetrical-Pediatric-Adult-Geriatric-Surgical Health Specialists?” With a title that long, surely the government will give us back part of our pay cut!

To the Editor:

It grates on my self-esteem when I am called a practitioner and considered by the uninformed to be equal to a nurse practitioner. I often take the extra time with my patients to explain the difference between the two.

I took it one step further when I wrote to TriCare, telling them I was not a medical manager but really a fully qualified physician, proven by my high malpractice premiums. Managers don’t have malpractice insurance, I assured them. Yet in their frequent communications to me concerning patient care, they insisted on calling me a medical manager. They informed me that the government says I am a medical manager, so I must answer to that name. They included a reference to the government dictate they quoted, but I threw that out … along with my TriCare contract.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

Send your comments to fpmedit@aafp.org. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. We cannot respond to all letters we receive. Those chosen for publication will be edited for length and style.

Copyright © 2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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