I’ve Never Really been Mr. Pullen

Sometimes when someone addresses me as Mr. Pullen it seems strange.  I am not used to the salutation Mr. being applied to me.  I just skipped the Mr. stage of my life.  I took the full speed ahead approach to becoming a doctor.   High school, 4 years of college followed by 4 years of med school then my MD.  Before my 25th birthday I was formally Dr. Pullen, and incorrectly had been addressed as Dr. Pullen for much of the prior 2 years by many patients as a med student on the hospital wards.

In addition I had a young appearance in my early 20’s so just didn’t inspire many people to address me as mister.  These thoughts came to me tonight after attending a social event for local resident physicians and community physicians put on by the county medical society.  I was asked by a young resident physician what I had done in my career prior to joining my current practice.  It seemed to shock the questioning resident that I really had spent almost all of my career, the last 27+ years in my current position.  I was an Army physician for 7 years prior, in residency and in my service tour, but since then my medical career has been as a family physician in my private group practice in Puyallup, WA.  In a community of this size to most people I’m just Dr. Pullen.

I have also had a few mostly young 20’s patients recently who call me Mr. Pullen.  I am surprised every time by how strange this sounds to me.  Not bad nor good, just so different it causes me to wonder why I feel so odd when being addressed in a perfectly natural way.  I wonder if I should be more used to this perfectly natural salutation. I don’t think of myself as pompous or arrogant (does anyone though?) I have thoughts like, “Gee, I should be more used to that why does it startle me a bit.  What’s wrong with me?”

I certainly have high regard for some of the Misters in my life.  Some of the most important and influential mentors in my life have been people I’ve addressed as Mr.  I credit Mr. Morin, my high school physics, chemistry and calculus teacher, with teaching me to think analytically, to look at math problems in practical ways, and with setting me up for success in a science undergraduate course of study.  Coach Benner made us run “wakeups” for addressing him as Mr. instead of Coach, but in all conversations with teammates or others when he was not present was always Mr. Benner.  As a high school basketball coach Mr. Benner helped me learn and believe that simply putting more effort and hustle into any sport or life undertaking can lead to success far beyond where I could get based on my talent or natural skills.

I guess having been Dr. Pullen for 34 years and just a kid for 21 of the other 24 years makes it natural that I never had much opportunity to be Mr. Pullen in our society where physicians are routinely addressed as Dr.  When I travel it is sometimes fun to feel like I’m going incognito and inwardly smiling as hotel personnel and others speak to Mr. Pullen and it seems fine.  Around home, in the office, or other times I am usually either Ed or Dr. Pullen.  Mr. Pullen just really never happened to me and I’m happy as Dr. Pullen. I wonder if in retirement Mr. Pullen will feel more natural.  Some  day I’ll find out I guess.

Ebola Primer

Ebola virus has been front-page news recently and the arrival of Dr. Kent Brantley at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta was the first Ebola infected patient to be transported to the U.S. for care.  This required a specially equipped air evacuation plane for transport from Liberia to Atlanta and for Emory University Hospital to workContinue Reading

Chikungunya Virus: The Latest Exotic Illness in the U.S.

Another disease previously not documented to have been acquired in the  continental US surfaced this month. A case of Chikungunya virus infection was diagnosed in a man in Florida on about July 15th, and in a Florida woman shortly thereafter.. I have to admit that this caught my eye primarily because of the unusual nameContinue Reading

Perception is Reality – Sort of Anyway

I found this NPR piece on the different perceptions of an episode of care from the patients vs. the medical team’s prespectives.  The patient gets extraordiary care yet feels neglected and almost abused.  A quick read you’ll enjoy. Heart of the Matter: Treating the Disease Instead of the Person Too often, especially in emergent orContinue Reading

World Cup Science

As the US prepares to play its first game in Brazil at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, I had a chance to peruse the most recent Scientific American and several soccer related articles.  This is available online, and for the science oriented fan of the beautiful game it’s worth a look.  Here are a fewContinue Reading

This Month in the Medical News

Followers may have noted that I’ve not very much  posted in a while.  This is primarily due to spring migration.  As an avid birder, I have been spending nearly every free daylight hour, and some non-daylignt hours afield enjoying this miracle of nature.  The neotropic songbirds and Arcitc breeding shorebirds have been racing past toContinue Reading

Should You Choose a Doctor with Poor Online Ratings?

Maybe so.  Common reasons for poor ratings of physicians online include refusal to prescribe antibiotics for viral illnesses and refusal to prescribe opioid pain medications upon demand.  Physicians are under pressure to “perform” well on patient satisfaction surveys,  to reign in the prescription opioid abuse epidemic and to limit prescribing of antibiotics for self-limited illnessesContinue Reading

Should Deer Populations be Reduced to Control Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease has reached epidemic proportions in America, especially in the East.  An estimated >30,000 cases of Lyme disease will be diagnosed and reported in the U.Sl this year and many more cases will go undiagnosed or unreported. This issue is close to my heart because the daughter of a good friend continues her battle toContinue Reading

DIY Hay Fever Therapy- The Time is Now

Do-it-yourself (DIY) management is now something many if not most hay fever sufferers can effectively accomplish. The approval of an over-the-counter nasal corticosteroid, Nasacort OTC in October 2013 makes this the first spring where the drug most of us prescribe as the mainstay of hay feverpre therapy is available without a prescription. This is anContinue Reading

The Price of Success: A Hepatitis C Update

In the United States Hepatitis C recently passed HIV as a cause of death.  The USPSTF has recommended screening all baby boomers for Hepatitis C, i.e. those born between 1945 and 1965, with a category B strength of recommendation. This makes Hepatitis C screening a preventative service that is covered by all insurance policies withoutContinue Reading