I've now been in my new position for about 8 months. (When does "new" no longer apply?) The toughest part of moving for me is having to build new relationships with patients, and over the past few weeks I'm finally looking at my daily schedules and recognizing some names.
I think my patients are starting to feel that sense of comfort as well, and several of them have made a similar comment to me. The context always seems complimentary:
"You're not like any doctor I've ever known!"
One patient followed this comment by saying, "If you weren't wearing a white coat, I'd never guess you were a doctor."
I graduated from medical school in 2003, yet I've never heard these comments before, not until this most recent move. Is there something different about the physicians in this area whom I'm being compared to? Have I changed, somehow, in ways I haven't recognized?
I have gotten a lot more comfortable in my own skin as a doc. I still rely on my doctor-patient communication training to make sure the visit stays focused on the patient's needs, but I worry less about "sounding like a doctor." I feel free to inject some of myself into these interactions, which feels much more comfortable than earlier in my career; I was guilty of imitating how I felt a "good" doctor would act instead of being genuine with patients.
While I appreciate the implied compliments, part of me worries about these "not like other doctors" statements. Perhaps I don't look professional enough, or act professionally enough. Maybe I'm putting too much of my personality into these encounters. Maybe my patient interactions cross that invisible doctor-patient boundary line of appropriateness. Is there some inherent "doctor"quality that I am lacking?
And, if so, how do I figure out what it is?