Are You a Real Doctor?

Will the real doctor in the room please stand up? Yes, I have been asked if I am a “real doctor,” on multiple occasions. Both those who have obtained M.D. degrees, as well as though who have earned Ph.D. degrees, are “doctors.” I have never misrepresented myself as a physician, but I absolutely am a doctor. In fact, I have spent the same amount of time in my prolonged academic training as any physician. I completed two master’s degrees, prior to receiving my doctorate. I also finished a post-doctoral fellowship, in psychological pain management. Unlike the majority of clinical psychologists, I have also completed extensive medical coursework. My doctoral degree is in Clinical Health Psychology, the interface between psychology and medicine. I have expertise in the psychological symptoms that present in medical disorders, as well as the psychological disorders that contribute to the development of medical issues. This expertise, ironically enough, has served me very well as I’ve developed multiple chronic medical conditions over time. It has allowed me to become an excellent advocate for my own healthcare, since I have the knowledge base and expertise required to interpret scientific literature. It has also permitted me to develop the personal confidence required to challenge countless arrogant, condescending specialists. I am thankful that I persevered in completing my extended education, despite my career plans having been extensively disrupted by the development of chronic illness.

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