Mr. Smith and Dr. Jones

This is kind of my version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

You have finished medical school and been granted the MD (or DO) behind your name. Congratulations Dr. Jones! I welcome you to a very exclusive club and a very honorable profession. Quickly you will find yourself drowning in an ocean of medical knowledge as an intern, doing your best to soak up enough of it to get to the next day. However, that is a story for another day… a Medicine Monday perhaps…

This post is not really about Dr. Jones, it’s about Mr. Smith. Being a doctor is something that is extraordinarily difficult to “turn off”. Even when the last patient is seen, the pager is off, and you are home in front of the TV… Dr. Jones never really sleeps or takes a break. You’ll be watching some show and be appalled at how unrealistically doctors are portrayed. “That’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works!” you’ll cry.


You’ve now officially joined the ranks of all the doctors out there. Remember where you are. Home. In front of a TV.

NOBODY CARES… It’s ok to be Mr. Smith…

The pager is off. The stethoscope is haphazardly laying on your dining table. Your scrubs are sitting in your laundry basket. Relax. Laugh. Enjoy how unrealistic it all is.

However, that is just one example, there are many others.

You will be out with friends and you’ll SEE things and HEAR things.

Then lots of bells  of medical knowledge will go off in your head and you will try to diagnose people. That little old man has a shuffling gait, I wonder if he has Parkinson’s. Is he ok? Maybe I should go help him. Oh, he’s ok, his wife is there to help him. Wait, what did my friend just say…? I wasn’t paying attention.

You will bore your friends with medical talk. Try to remember that they don’t understand the context of your story and it will probably not interest them AT ALL.

You will battle with yourself about correcting your friends when it comes to medical stuff. John isn’t feeling well and wants antibiotics from his PCP, but it’s definitely a cold… should I tell him he doesn’t need them? I’m sure it’s fine. Wait, maybe I should tell him, I don’t want him to get c. diff colitis or something. He might even be allergic.

I’m here to tell you… this is all normal.

You will eventually find your new baseline of Mr. Smith and Dr. Jones. You will come to realize when you can turn off Dr. Jones and when you need him. You will also come to learn when people actually want your opinion as Dr. Jones, or as Mr. Smith. These are all things you gain from experience.

More so than that, don’t let medicine consume you. Yes, it is a very important part of your life, especially during residency when it seems to consume you. But trust me, when the pager is off and you’re off schedule and you get a golden weekend, use it to be Mr. Smith. Go do whatever you want to do. It doesn’t have to be grand like hiking the Grand Canyon or climbing Mt. Everest. It can be as simple as getting a pint (or gallon) of ice cream and binge watching Sex and the City or Friends or something.  Do what Mr. Smith would do. Let Dr. Jones sleep.


Dr. Jones and Mr. Smith are one and the same.

Don’t forget that before you were ever Dr. Jones, you were Mr. Smith.


Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.

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