Views & Reviews

Patient commentary: Empowered patients aren’t belittled by doctors’ titles

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6355 (Published 25 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6355
  1. Dave deBronkart, policy adviser on patient engagement, Nashua, New Hampshire, USA
  1. dave{at}epatientdave.com

Doctors’ trappings of power—white coats, diplomas, titles—are a mixed blessing. I’m an empowered, egalitarian, and free thinking patient, but still I’ve known the desperate desire to have my life saved by brilliant, god-like, highly educated, experienced wizards.

I’ve known the healing sensation of feeling that I’m in the best place possible and in the hands of someone who can save me. And I’m all for it if these trappings sometimes have some kind of placebo effect.

Earned authority

But power can also be used, intentionally or not, to control others. Some physicians have told me they were taught that these trappings were part of their earned authority: for …

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