QMC- 13- The Celebrity Tag & Humility

How do I stop the celebrity tag from getting to my head

Dr DL has an unusual question about celebrity tags. “I’m a super-specialist. One of a kind at my institution. I’ve kind of developed a celebrity status. Nurses make way for me, I’m allowed ahead of the queue at the cafeteria and if I’m late people are willing to excuse my tardiness. I’ll be honest, it’s kind of flattering. I love it but it’s giving me a God complex. How do I stop the celebrity tag from getting to my head?”

Celebrity Tag & Humility

Celebrity Tag & Humility

I have to say this was quite unusual though I can relate. It’s easy to allow the celebrity to take over and run away with the tag. I think the best bit is that you realize it’s getting out of hand. For one, appreciate that you are loved and respected.

As far as preventing the celebrity tag these may help:

A doctor is only as good as his team. So whenever you can, share the limelight with the team.  I’m guessing you’re in a surgical specialty so you have an even bigger team to share the celebrity with at work. Your ICU nurses, recovery room staff, OT staff and the wards.


What today is deference will tomorrow be partiality. I know lots of doc’s who want to be served ahead of others in a line or expect preferential treatment. Why? Is your time more important than others? Don’t encourage this. Pay your dues as you go as far as time is concerned. You’ll be more loved.


In Medicine, the culture has been to self promote. You see it right in medical school. The higher-up’s have no clue who does what, and when the self promoters promote, it is assumed they’ve done the hard work.  This behavior gets reinforced throughout training. Are you self-promoting your own celebrity? You may be guilty of it without being aware.


Remember no one is perfect . The higher your rise the worse your fall. Every time you hear praise remind yourself you will make mistakes. Ground yourself. Stay rooted to your colleagues and especially other doctors, you need their help. Your celebrity maybe hurting them. So stay grounded. I do recommend Henry Marsh’s book “DO NO HARM” as he recounts being a neurosurgeon and dealing with his flaws everyday.


Know the difference. People maybe saying what you like to hear. Are you getting carried away by flattery? Once you pay attention, it’s easy to tell the difference. Deflect any flattery and cherish the appreciation.


You climb the mountain to see the world not so the world can see you. Stay humble. That’s the best advice I can give you. Here’s an article on eating humble pie. And a word of caution to the celebrity afflicted docs, if you think you’re humble, pride has already set in. That’s the simplicity of it. Read Dr. Jack Coulehan’s article on staying humble from the Annals of Internal Medicine.

I hope this helps you. And if anyone has any more advice please do share. I haven’t reached the level of suprerstardom 🙂 so I don’t have more to say.  My motto has always been ‘keep your head down and work.’ So please share any tips you have for dealing with the celebrity tag.

If you’re a doctor who would like to send in a question, you can DM me on twitter @PamelaQFerns or even message me on LinkedIn or simply use the contact form or email me.

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