Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What is it about 'being' a doctor?


I am not talking about people who are real doctors, ie people with a doctorate in some discipline or other, but about medical doctors (most of whom probably don't actually have a doctorate). - At a German university hospital a fraudster was found out not to be a medical doctor, only after she worked (successfully I might add) for four years at the hospital. The woman in question had no medical qualifications (she studied medicine but crashed thru various exams and never graduated). So she faked her graduation documents, applied for a post in the hospital and began to work. She also published a substantial number of scientific papers, quite a few of which received prizes for their excellence. In the end she was found out, suspended and is currently being prosecuted.

Nothing much in all of this is truly newsworthy, I guess. Over the years there's been a continuing trickle of fraudsters like this woman. Of course, we only ever learn about those fraudsters who have been found out, which makes one wonder how many non-medics work as medical doctors in our health care systems. It makes one also wonder what it is about medicine that drives folks to do such things. I mean, how often have you heard of someone pretending to be a philosopher who actually has no training in philosophy, or how often are lab technicians found out who actually have no training etc. I sometimes wonder whether it's to do with the quasi-religious side of medicine, its rituals and clothing (like: why should doctors have to wear a white coat? there is no particular scientific reason... it's really more like the colourful dresses priests tend to wear to distinguish themselves from the rest of us.- and how often do folks working in health care settings, who are not medics, aspire to (or actually do) wear a white coat, then there's white coat ceremonies etc etc). Medics usually respond with a vague nod toward 'tradition', and if that doesn't help with the grave responsibility for their patients' wellbeing (even life). This usually is also deployed to justify out-of-whack wage claims. The thing is, if responsibility for one's clients' lives was the relevant factor in determining one's legitimate claims in terms of salary, status etc, arguably the average bus driver carries in a day's work more responsibility than the average medic. So... what is it about the medical profession that makes it sufficiently desirable that people without such competencies lie and cheat to look like they're medical doctors?

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