Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Career Focus

Doctoring doctors

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 31 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:S2-7205

Rapid Response:


Rather than concentrate on the paradoxically more common conditions
that affect the person who works as doctor, we may progress the doctor-as-
patient and doctor-for-doctor roles and the two doctor consultation by
firstly taking the doctor from an occupational identity to a personal
identity. That is 'a doctor is a PERSON who works as a medical

For every person health issues may be:
1. Independent of occupation (cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
mental health, immunisation).
2. Linked to occupation (for us, needlestick injury, latex allergy,
exposure to infection, radiation and anesthetics).
3. Paradoxiically more common in an occupation (for us, depression,
suicide, alcohol and substance abuse, unhappy relationships)
4. Catastrophes (suicide, premature deaths)

I have been exploring, learning and teaching the doctor-as-patient,
doctor-for-doctor and the two doctor consultation for the past three years
within the Australian general practice Divisions of general Practice.

There is great resistance to saying "I am a Person who works as a
doctor". Many wish to say "I am a DOCTOR".

I believe that a way forward will come from cultural studies of the
Medical and Doctor Families and suggest that moving from DOCTORhood to
Personhood and hence to Patienthood, applying the techniques of femininsm,
poststructuralism etc. to produce Doctors' Liberation and Doctorism. These
are terms I have invented and I would be grateful for any responses to

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 September 1999
Tony Rogers
Mentor for GP Registrars
Victorian Advanced Training for General Practice, Depat. Community Medicine, Monash University