Friday, March 28, 2008


In the election we had last month, a local emergency physician ran and won for the ruling Conservative party. Now I have no issue with a physician running for a party that has eviscerated health care in the province; nor do I have any issue with the fact that physicians who go into politics are innevitably an embarassment to the profession; nor even with the fact that if a physician gets into a position of power they are never a friend to the profession.

What I have an issue that his campaign photo was a head and shoulder shot of him wearing an OR green top with his stethoscope hung over the back of his neck. This large photo is, as far as I know, still adorning a bus shelter I drive past too often. It is saying look at me, I am a doctor, I am cool, I save lives.

The old image of a doctor is of course a stethoscope dangling from the neck like a neck tie (which doctors innevitably wore in those days). I often wonder how often they snagged their stethoscope on something.
When I first started going to into hospitals as a medical student, nurses slung their stethoscopes around their necks which most doctors carried their stethoscopes in the pocket of their coats. (Surgeons never carried a stethoscope why would they?)

Gradually people started slinging their stethoscope over the back of their necks. Even I did. We thought it looked cool. Except you still snagged it on things plus the rubber irritated your neck (some people had cloth sleeves made for that purpose). In fact after a while with everybody doing it, it was no longer cool so I stopped as did most people and my stethoscope went back into my pocket. Somewhere along the way, I lost it or it was stolen. I now borrow stethscopes when I need one and I rely on the ETCO2 for tube placement (I still make medical students and residents listen!)

The image of a doctor used to be, a clean white coat, shirt, tie and nice pants. (These doctors were by the way always male). There seems lately to be a trend where doctors are photographed wearing OR greens and with a stethoscope or further props. The stethscope is after all only one of many tools a physician uses. Why didn't he have his picture taken using an otoscope, or a rectal glove?

Anyway why should it matter whether he is a doctor as to whether he will be a good member of the legislature. And certainly there are better ways to advertise your professional qualifications than to have your photo taken wearing your stethoscope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

im in ems and i cant stand my "ears" around my neck it pulls my hair hits you in your face and you need alot of elbow room to remove it. what pisses me off is people who call an ambulance to get a new band-aide, yes it happens;and my quote/thought: is it better to be loved or feared? have a good day and age isnt a number...atleast your pt's dont bite!!lol