Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is your speciality?

"What is your speciality?"

I was attending a Party in a relative's house in a City far away from my workplace. I had to face this question more than once that night. I was speechless for a moment.

I am asked that question whenever I am among strangers not connected to Medical profession and always find it difficult to make people understand my area of work.

Should I say I am a General Physician?

Then they will say 'Oh you are a General Practitioner" which is not quite correct though many consider us as glorified General Practitioners.

Should I say I am an Internist?

Then they will ask what that is and I will have to explain that an internist is a doctor who specializes in identifying and treating diseases which do not need surgery. Many will still not understand.

Sometimes I say I am a Diabetologist. I have trained myself to be one and most of my patients are Diabetics thanks to high incidence of Diabetes in Kerala.

But am I just a Diabetologist?

No I do not want to be considered only as a Diabetologist. I also had some training in Rheumatology and also in HIV/AIDS.

Many well wishers have asked me why you are not concentrating on one sub-speciality/super-speciality.

"Why don't you take a DM in Cardiology or Neurology? You can earn double for the same amount of work"

But I never wanted to confine myself to one organ or organ system. Also after spending almost 10 yrs in training in Medicine I did not want another 3 years in Medical College. Being an MD in Internal Medicine I believed I am competent enough to tackle most of the cases that come to me. I could also work in smaller towns without much infrastructure unlike a sub-specialist. I also felt that work of an Internist is more exciting, dealing with a large variety of disease conditions.

So I never tried for a DM.

We the Internists always used to say jokingly that a Sub-specialist [we never call them super-specialist] is a doctor who knows more and more about less and less. Sub-specialists will say we are just jealous.

Now after 14 years of practice as an Internist, when I look back I do not have any regrets.

But I am still speechless when that question is asked.

"What is your speciality?"