Friday, June 20, 2014

I Didn't Know My Anesthesiologist Is A Doctor

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, a survey showed that six in ten Americans don''t know that anesthesiologists are medical doctors. It declined to reveal what the survey participants thought anesthesiologists are trained in. Consequently, the ASA will from now on use the term "physician anesthesiologists" every time they want to say anesthesiologists. You can see the change in terminology in all ASA publications and news releases.

To me, this seems a little bit petty. Are we so insecure in our medical standing that we have to emphasize "physician" when we refer to our own profession? I suppose it is a little pathetic that this is even an issue. Nobody doubts that their surgeons or cardiologists are physicians. Heck even radiologists and dermatologists are assumed to be physicians without needing any verbal reinforcement. Have anesthesiologists fallen so far in the public conscience and esteem that we have to be in their face about our medical training?

In addition, "physician anesthesiologist" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Some people have shorthanded anesthesiologists to MDA. However, a few anesthesiologists found this term insulting as it assumes that the "A" can be anything besides a doctor. Also some of our colleagues are not MD's but instead graduated from osteopathic schools. I don't think they would appreciate being lumped in with MDA's, or even worse, be referred to as DOA's.

So the public relations war with CRNA's goes on. It's like the battle between iPhones and Android phones. Both function nearly identically with very little differentiation or proven advantages. To win the hearts and minds of patients, elaborate advertising campaigns need to be waged. Money that should be used for improving patient safety instead is being spent on wining and dining politicians and expensive advertisements. I just wished they had spent some of that money to come up with a catchier term than "physician anesthesiologist". How about the "dream team"? "Hello Mrs. Jones, I am your dream team for your surgery today." Doesn't that sound better?

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