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Published: Sunday, August 29, 2010, 12:01 a.m.

Dr. Robert Scarr, internal medicine physician at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek

  • Dr. Robert Scarr practices internal medicine at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Dr. Robert Scarr practices internal medicine at The Everett Clinic in Mill Creek.

Q: How did your name direct your career path?
A: It didn't at all. My father was a large animal veterinarian in rural Minnesota, so I grew up around medicine and science, and I didn't decide to go into medicine until I was a junior in college.
I picked internal medicine because I thought it was the most representative branch of medicine that was most similar to the classic doctor. Internists are known for their ability to diagnose a patient's problem by looking at the history of patients and coming up with a diagnosis of what is wrong with this person. It's like a family doc for adults.
Yeah, I do (perform procedures with a scalpel). Most internists do simple office procedures such as skin biopsies and removing skin lesions. But I didn't think about it much.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?

A: I would not. I have no reasons to. I've gotten used to it after all these years.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
A: I'd be a plastic surgeon. Because of my name, of course. That's why I would pick plastic surgery because then my name would be perfect. You see, I wasn't thinking clearly back in those earlier years.
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
A: Well, often when I first meet a patient, they say something like, "It's a good thing you are not a plastic surgeon." That's the usual joke I hear, and sometimes they apologize for it, and I say, 'That's OK, I've heard all of them,' and then we go on with things. So it comes up mostly with new patients.
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: It came up with the children back when "The Lion King" was popular and the uncle, the bad lion whose name was Scar, and at the time the kids would comment on it and I would assure them I wasn't related.
And not my profs in college, but my colleagues, the other students would comment. There was one student I was with when I was a resident and he was a cardiologist and his name was Dr. Pain, and he and I would talk about it every now and then.
But patients running away because of my name? It's never happened. Not once. No patients running away. Not for that reason, anyway.
Story tags » HealthPeople

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