The Gap Between “Professionalism” and Actual Skill


“You couldn’t trust what he said,” said Dr. Vanessa Olcese, a former chief resident who worked with Dr. Desai at Duke University Medical Center. “You would verify everything that he did and take everything he did with a grain of salt.” (New York Times)

Dr. Desai, a supposed “prodigy” for his exclusive education track, achieving an MBA, Ph.D., and M.D. by the age of 27, embraces a knack for dishonesty when it comes to self-reporting laboratory results to mass media sources. Skewed numbers and misrepresented information, Dr. Desai’s medical journals have garnered skepticism for his “cunning data”, so much so that professionals, like Dr. Vanessa Olcese, have lost trust in his works overtime.

Of course, the obvious problem here is his tendency to distribute “disinfodemic” research; this type of work ethic can never be justified, especially during a global pandemic. But another problem I have noticed amongst the several articles and experiences I have come across in the past is that there seems to be this gap between the honorary title one pertains and its actual correlation with the level of skills he or she should be expected to showcase or possess.

I can’t recount all the times I have felt cut short or disappointed by a professional, but one significant moment that I can recall occurred years ago when I went to a prestigious hospital (I won’t name names), seeking medical guidance, only to be asked the question, “So what do you want?” as if I was supposed to know how to grade myself. For the amount of money, my parents paid for the session, ironically, I left with nothing, not a single cent of information.

And while I understand that professionals can’t know everything as life constantly stirs up new mysteries, there’s a certain level of expectation that comes with being called a “professional”.

Embellished with high achieving awards and school names, these external aspects sometimes look like nothing but ego-boosters. You really can’t assume anyone’s skill level with their business card or Linkedin profiles anymore.

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