Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Bone Doctor

In med school, we had this ethics class where we were separated into small discussion groups led by a physician preceptor. My preceptor was an orthopedic surgeon who always called himself a “bone doctor.” As in, “What do I know? I’m just a bone doctor.”

However, the guy clearly very much enjoyed being a bone doctor, because when he took us out to lunch at the end of the semester, he systematically belittled each of our future specialty choices:

Me: "I want to go into peds." (Yes, I used to want to do peds.)
Bone doctor: "You know, being a pediatrician is kind of like being a veterinarian."
Me: "Perfect. I love baby animals."

Girl: "I want to be a psychiatrist."
Bone doctor: "The thing about psychiatrists is they're all crazy."
Other girl: "Hey, my dad's a psychiatrist!"

Guy: "I want to do neurology."
Bone doctor: "Neurology is a great field. You can find out exactly what is wrong with the patient's brain that is causing their symptoms. Then you can't do anything to help them."
Guy: "No, but that's changing! Neurology has lagged behind other fields, but there are going to be big advances in curing neurological ailments in the next thirty years!"
(I think that guy ended up becoming an ENT, but I can't remember. Anyway, definitely not a neurologist.)

Girl #2: "I want to be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon."
Bone doctor starts laughing: "You're kidding me."


  1. He might have had a point about the psychiatrists. Maybe their patients rub off on them.

  2. I usually say I'm a bone doctor. No one knows what an orthopedic surgeon is. Every now and then I tell people I'm a BoneDoc Saint just to see their response. Most people don't get the reference.

  3. Thanks for proving that all orthopedics are assholes.

  4. i think they prefer the term boneholes over assholes.

  5. My dad's an orthopaedics surgeon ha! :P And my mum's a psychiatrist so there are constant battles in the household...! Why is Paeds like being a vet?

    I am currently interested in going into public health. My fellow med students' response - 'Er. What's that? / Why would you do that? / Too much boring stuff, why don't you go into a real medical or surgical speciality?' FML.

  6. I want to be a computational fluid dynamics engineer.

    Peds is like being a vet because the patients can't tell you what's wrong with them. The implicit assumption being that adults can... (or at least give you any kind of useful information)