Is the Doctor In?

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

The nurse finished her initial assessment and told me that the resident would be in to see me first before the faculty doctor would join us. In a few minutes the resident bounded into the examining room with a welcoming “Hey Richard, what’s going on?” Catching a glimpse of his name tag, I responded, “Hey Jesse, not too much, what happening for you?”

Thus began another interaction with modern healthcare. There is a part of me that likes the casual interactions between myself and Jesse. Having doctors get off that old pedestal they use to sit on helps create a more connected and partnership relationship. Yet on the other hand, I felt like Jesse was so casual about our introductions, that I had to wonder if he was going to fit me for a new pair of shoes or take my lunch order.

After all, I probably know as much about my condition as he does. I read up on it on the Internet.

I ran into his mentor a few days later (he’s a friend) and mentioned to him that Jesse’s casual style immediately (for me) mitigates one of the key resources which physician’s (and other specialists) have in their toolbox, which is being able to use their highly specialized knowledge and experience to help influence our thinking. We look to experts to help us determine the best course of action and if his casual demeanor diminishes my view of him as an expert, then I might just assume that the knowledge I accumulated is as valuable (maybe more valuable) than his, based on his years of study…and that would be a mistake.

Perhaps our current denigration of science is related to the possibility that we don’t see physicians and other scientists as having a little pedestal on which they are standing. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a pedestal, but perhaps a stepstool.

I kind of wish that Jesse had come in and said “Hey, Mr. Citrin, how you are today. Would it be oaky if I call you Richard?” That would have made all the difference since then I would surely have called him Dr. Jesse and I would have known he knows much more than me.


Cheryl Paxton-Hughes is the Chief Operating Officer for one of Pittsburgh’s best known law firms. Edger Snyder and Associates. Cheryl has a remarkable career path including IT, health care and even a stint at GameStop before managing the operational aspects in her current role. Cheryl was named a finalist for the Pittsburgh Human Resource Associations “Leader of the Year” award.

Check out her interview here.

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