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It varies. Some medical students can't wait for the day they can strut around, head held high, and pigeon chested with their name tag sticking out like a superhero's logo. Others, like myself, felt self-conscious and tried to hide it like Superman behind his Clark Kent veil.

For the former Masters of the Universe, being called "doctor" is their raison d'etre, and the reward for sticking to an arduous path and beating it. But for the introverts like myself, being called doctor felt alien, aging, and distancing like being called "Sir" or "Madam." As naive as it sounds, I kind of like being 'an average joe' with my patients with no pretensions, airs or graces. 

I remember the first time I was called doctor being broadcast over the hospital paging system, feeling my pulse quicken with equal parts excitement, pride, and fear. It took me a couple of years to feel fully comfortable with the addition stuck on to my name. For those of you married, you might recall how awkward you felt when publicly saying so or your name change for the first time. That feeling well captures what it feels like call yourself for the first time Doctor.  

It has been well over a decade since my graduation and I still like to introduce myself by my first name whenever possible. Where I do use my 'doctor' title reflexively is when I'm on on the phone conducting official business. Things go much smoother when you aren't vague about who you are when dealing with pharmacies, labs, insurance companies, and other allied fields. I use my title as a lubricant for getting things done in an official capacity, but not with my patients who I like to feel comfortable with me - maybe that's why they tell me secrets the other docs never hear...

What I've found really interesting about the doctor title is how doctors bare it in front of other doctors. In meetings of physicians who are all strangers, for example, at medical conferences, we'll often be asked to introduce ourselves in a human wave starting at one end and ending back at the point of origin. I can separate the fossils of the group from the crafty-creative ones by one simple test: watch which introduce themselves preceding their name by "I'm Dr." as opposed to just "I'm Y." The former are usually the least open-minded in any discussion. After all, if we're all doctors sitting in the room, why else would you need to remind everyone around that you're a doctor? Freud might have explained this as a phallic disorder. Maybe some of us would be more aptly called 'Dick-tor" not 'Doctor'. 

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