Calling Dr. Patel

Calling Dr. Patel. 

I have a lot of colleagues and friends that are physicians. 

Some I have been friends with for more than a decade and some are more recent. Some of my physician friends have been practicing for 40 or more years while others have just finished medical school. 

The one thing I always do is use the prefix Dr. before their surname. 

This last week I was conversing with a few of my friends and when we started the conversation I greeted her with the usual, “Good afternoon Dr. Patel, how are you doing?” 

She responded to me with the following, “Andy, how many times do I have to tell you just call me Jenn?” She continued to remind me of how long we have known one another and the work we have done together and that I need to drop the formality. 

Andy, why do you keep calling me Dr. Patel? 

This is my explanation. 

I call you Dr. Patel because you have achieved the title of M.D. 

I call you Dr. Patel because it is a sign of respect for you, for the work you do, and the care you provide for patients in our communities. 

I call you Dr. Patel to acknowledge the hard work, the dedication, and the sacrifices you had to endure for nearly a decade to become a physician in your specialty. 

I call you Dr. Patel because when I walk into a hospital or clinic I see so many people wearing a white coat nowadays that patients are confused. Patients begin to call PA’s, NP’s, and MSN’s “doctor.” 

I call you Dr. Patel because I have observed some of your family and colleagues minimize your work, your achievements, and your status. 

I call you Dr. Patel because I do not want to accidentally call you by your first name in the wrong setting. I do not want to give others the impression that not using the prefix is acceptable for everyone. 

I call you Dr. Patel because I know at any given moment I can call you, ask if you would be willing to give a second opinion, and you are willing to provide your time and attention at the N of 1. 

I call you Dr. Patel because I respect the science, the art, and the sanctity of medicine. 

I call you Dr. Patel because you are the Me in Medicine. 

I call you “doctor” because you “answered” the calling to deliver care with patients at the N of 1. 

“Doctor” is my loving way to honor and respect you at the N of 1. 

Please email your comments, thoughts, questions, or ideas to me directly at You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.


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