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A Piece of My Mind
July 2, 2014

Nominal Competence in Health Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Pediatrics and Community & Family Medicine, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire
JAMA. 2014;312(1):31-32. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.5579

“I’m never going to be able to remember your name.”

It had been a busy weekend on call, with several critically ill babies admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Mrs Johnson, the mother of one of these babies, was sitting next to her baby’s incubator. As the attending neonatologist in charge, I had just introduced myself to her. That’s when she told me that would never be able to remember my name. This was nothing new. I’ve heard similar comments from other parents in the past. Several years ago the mother of another of my patients told me proudly how she managed to remember my name: “I’ll always remember your name because I told myself that Dr Suresh sounds like David Koresh!” In addition to not remembering my name, patients (and colleagues) very frequently mispronounce my name. Some have admitted, often apologetically, that they have difficulty pronouncing my name.

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