June 1, 2010
by Bruce R. Pynn, MSc, DDS, FRCD(C)
I was relaxing on the plane during a recent transatlantic flight; deeply focused on my book when I heard, “is there a doctor on board”? As no one responded, my wife, Tania, sitting across from me, gave me the look and told me to go help out. So I walked to the back of plane where a passenger was lying in the aisle, apparently fainting after standing up too fast en route to the washroom. I told the flight attendant I was an oral surgeon and offered my assistance. After a quick assessment and a few suggestions, it became apparent that the passenger was OK and just needed a cold cloth and a few minutes to gather his bearings, just as it has happened in the office on more than one occasion. It was just at this point that I had “The Hangover” movie moment, a second crusty flight attendant made her way back to the commotion and tapped the other stewardess on the shoulder and said “is this guy a doctor”, which garnered an over the shoulder response of, “No, he’s just an oral surgeon”. Thus, I was dismissed.
As I walked back to my seat, I had to laugh to myself as I felt like Stu (played beautifully by Ed Helms) when he asked to see his pal’s chart, Phil (played by Bradley Cooper) so they could retrace their steps at the hospital from the chaos of the previous night
Stu: “Do you mind if I take a look, I’m actually a doctor.”
Doctor: “Yeah you said that several times last night but really, you’re just a dentist.”
One of the other quotes from the movie was when the boys were checking into their hotel in Las Vegas and the clerk is confirming Stu’s reservation.
Phil: “Doctor Price? Stu, you’re a dentist. Don’t try and get fancy.”
Stu: “It’s not fancy if it’s true.”
Phil: “He’s a dentist, don’t get too excited. And if someone has a heart attack you should still call 911.”
Poor Stu, the dentist, was sadly getting mocked throughout the movie.
When I hear someone say “He’s not a real doctor he’s only a dentist” or speak words to that effect, I think that most of the time these words are spoken in jest. The speaker is being facetious and goading the dentist to show his/her insecurity and adopt a defensive posture. However in this age of enlightenment, only an unintelligent individual can seriously believe that dentists are not real doctors.
We may not be doctors of medicine but we have, however, earned the right to be called doctor since our education and training has endowed us with special knowledge and skills worthy of the title. No dentist should ever have to feel inadequate or unworthy of the term doctor. We come by it honestly, after many years of intensive study and hard work. We have earned the appellation doctor and the next time you hear someone say “oh, you’re not a real doctor, you’re only a dentist,” walk away smiling, content in the knowledge that one cannot reason with an uneducated person, nor should you try! oh
Note: The ‘Hangover’ movie was screwball comedy produced by Lengendary Pictures and released in the summer 2009 and has, to date, brought in $500 million in worldwide box office revenue.