Yesterday, my neighbor described his doctor as being arrogant. I’ve heard others refer to their doctors in the same way. I started to defend his doctor’s right to be arrogant but stopped myself. You see, my profession has been under attack for as long as I can remember; and I am accustomed to defending it. In this case, there is no adequate defense.
Even though there is no defense for arrogance, I can understand how it happens. The dictionary defines arrogant as:
having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.
“he’s arrogant and opinionated”
haughty · conceited · hubristic · self-important · opinionated · egotistic · full of oneself · superior · overbearing · pompous · high-handed · swaggering · boastful · bumptious · blustering · patronizing · condescending · disdainful · contemptuous · imperious
Doctors spend 4 years in medical school and another 3-5 years in residency training to care for you and your family. Doctors are trained to be opinionated. Their opinions can be the difference between life and death and they never forget the deaths that they were unable to stop or may even have caused. When you hold a person’s life in your hand, it’s easy to become conceited, even pompous and patronizing.
By the same token, when you’ve lost a patient, it’s easy to hide from the emotional damage and depression of loss by inflating your sense of self worth and superiority, feeling that no one could have done better. Over the years, I’ve met multiple physicians who were arrogant and, frankly, had a right to be. Those physicians were at the top of their fields, recognized world wide for their expertise. Some of the most arrogant physicians I met were my teachers.
While a certain degree of arrogance is supported by a doctor’s credentials, arrogance in a clinical situation is counterproductive. Arrogance can blind a physician to his/her own short comings. Arrogance can push a patient away. In the office, a physician needs to be humble, understanding that no matter his training or credentials, he/she is human and have short comings.
On graduating from the University of Virginia, I was so arrogant that I only applied to the top three medical schools on the East Coast. When I did not get accepted, I made the mistake of going to graduate school and found that I hated it. My arrogance led me to being the leader of a rebellious group of graduate students and, subsequently, being asked to leave the program.
Having come down off my high horse, I made one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I went to Mexico and enrolled in medical school. Mexico taught me humility and gave me the tools I needed to take care of those individuals who put their families in my hands.
My advice is to grant the arrogant physician his/her right to be arrogant and then find another physician to care for you.
Here’s your joke for the day:
A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas and talked with an old rancher.
He told the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.”
The rancher said, “Okay, but don’t go in that field over there…..”, as he pointed out the location.
The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, ” Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!”
Reaching into his rear pants pocket, the arrogant officer removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher.
“See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish…On any land!
No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear…do you understand?!”
The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.
A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher’s big Santa Gertrudis bull.
With every step, the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he’d sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.
The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…
“Your badge, show him your BADGE!!”