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My growing list of initials

July 2010

Published in the July 2010 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

One of the best things about both my masters in business administration (MBA) and my recent recognition as senior fellow in hospital medicine (SFHM) is that the number of my titles is becoming quite impressive. No longer just an MD, I am now MD, MBA, SFHM.

But I know I can do better. After all, I didn’t spend all this time being educated to have only three titles. Sure, I could get a PhD or JD, but I’m getting old and looking for something a little less taxing. It took my wife seven years to get a PhD “only three initials long, which computes to less than 0.5 letters per year. What a terrible time-to-letter ratio!

How successful have I been expanding on my number of professional titles? Let’s just say, I’m glad I didn’t accept that offer to matriculate in the graduate astrophysics program at Princeton. I am happy to announce that my list of titles has been significantly inflated with substantially less work than would have been required had I written the dissertation entitled, “Mass estimate of the XTE J1650-500 black hole from the Extended Orbital Resonance Model for high-frequency QPOs.” Damn you, Drs. Slany and Stuchlik, that was my idea!

What follows is a list of my newly acquired titles. Quite impressive, if I say so myself:

CDPM: Certified in Death Panel Medicine. If you believe the fears of some, we will all soon be required to have this formal certification. Why wait? I went ahead and took the weekend class offered by Dr. Kevorkian and colleagues. Move over stethoscope, here comes my scythe.

DCHM: DeLue Certified in Hospital Medicine. As I blogged about last year, separate board certification in hospital medicine as certified by one of the field’s most trusted names: DeLue. This may be less of an attractive option now that the ABIM is piloting a focused recognition program, and I’m sad to say I’ve had a dearth of takers to date. But operators are still standing by, so be sure to ask about our free toaster offer.

CUPC: An offshoot of CPC (Certified Professional Coder), CUPC “Certified Unprofessional Coder “is much easier to obtain. After years of classes and thousands of codes submitted, I still don’t get it. I suspect 90% of hospitalists are only an audit away from being CUPC-designation eligible. I gained my title after only two charts into my first audit!

AP: Acupuncture Physician. This is offered in Florida and many other states. I gained my license when I tried to do a nurse a favor by drawing blood for the first time since medical school. No blood, but the patient did report that her back pain went away.

CE: A company called Consultants Extraordinaire offers certification in RCFE (Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly) for health care professionals and is recognized in California. Although appealing, I told them I’d rather have formal certification as a Consultant Extraordinaire. The company was reluctant at first, but nothing some sweet talk and a few Benjamins couldn’t overcome. At my hospital, doctors no longer simply ask for a consult when requesting me. They now write: “Medical clearance by Dr. DeLue, consultant extraordinaire.”

FUNC: Fellow in Unnecessary Consults. If you are a hospitalist, chances are you already carry this designation but may not know it. No weekend course is needed; just take the number of consultants following your patients divided by the number of patients for which you are the attending. If that ratio is more than 2:1, congratulations: You are FUNC certified. More than 4:1? No need to ever recertify.

MSA: Masters in Self Aggrandizement. If you have three or more titles after your name, you get an MSA automatically.

YMCA: No, not actually a member, but I have done the dance between innings of baseball games and once at a late-night karaoke bar (or so I am told).

I am still looking for more, so please send suggestions. In the meantime, I will have to settle for: Erik DeLue, MD, MBA, SFHM, CDPM, DCHM, CUPC, AP, CE, FUNC, MSA, YMCA.

Erik DeLue, MD, MBA, is medical director of the hospitalist program at Virtua Memorial in Mt. Holly, N.J. Check out Dr. DeLue’s blog and others on the Today’s Hospitalist Web site.