I’ve been crook and I’m just so over it

Lindsay was locuming in the UK, when she was given the opportunity to work in Australia for a few years.

Aussie culture is far more laid back. I didn’t even realise how formal the UK was with its cultural norms until I moved away. And it took me by surprise when I first started working.

“Good morning Bruce.” “G’day Lindsay, how are ya?”

Did he just call me Lindsay?? Without an invitation? But my name is Dr Moran. And why is he asking me, the doctor, how I am? I’m here to find out what’s wrong with him!

“I’m very well thank you Bruce, how are you?” “Yeah really good, thanks, Lindsay. I’m travelling well.”

We enter the room. Bruce continues. “Ah doc, I am feeling so ordinary. Just ordinary.” Bruce looks unhappy but surely ordinary means he’s okay? “I’ve been crook and I’m just so over it.”

Cue a blank, confused look from me whilst I process this strange, conflicting history with no meaningful information in it.

The Aussies employ greetings that are different and immediately notable in how they differ from the Brits. The most shocking for me was the instant preference to first names over surnames. In the UK I was always “Dr Moran” at work, as per the stiff British custom of formal address. And this felt normal to me. In fact, in doctor conversation, we would discuss our shock of the rare, few patients who overstepped this unspoken, cultural boundary and called us by our first name. They broke the social code!

The most shocking for me was the instant preference to first names over surnames.

But then in Australia suddenly all my patients started calling me Lindsay. My first name!! It genuinely felt strange to me. Yet it felt different too. I didn’t feel the discomfort of a social code being smashed. In fact, when my patients called me Lindsay they did so in a friendly way. They’d say “It's nice to meet you Lindsay.” And would take my business card from my desk (another difference of Australian medicine) and say that they’ll be sure to book with me again next time.

Now I like that people are comfortable enough to just call me Lindsay.

First published in the October 2014 edition of The Sessional GP.

Lindsay Moran

A sessional GP from the UK working in Melbourne.

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