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A Piece of My Mind
May 6, 1998

Identity Matters (or Does It?)

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(17):1331. doi:10.1001/jama.279.17.1331

Any number of people have asked me how it feels to be retired. Sometimes I say it feels great, other times I say it's OK, but mostly I say ask me next year. After 54 years of practicing medicine, of using the doctor insignia fore and aft my name, of being immersed in a tightly woven medical belief system, reinforced daily by a busy psychiatric practice, I had little time to ponder the significance implicit in a heretofore uncritically assumed doctor identity (DI). It was a given—helping patients fashion their identity took precedence. I took mine for granted—ie, until the day of reckoning came 'round, the day I'd set to retire, the day I was unceremoniously transformed from a "professional" to a "civilian."

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