What’s in a Name
I’m terrible at Siezen. That fine art of gauging when to address someone formally with “Sie” and when to cross the threshold to “Du” and being on a first-name basis. The same goes for titles. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Austria and nowhere more than in the medical profession.
While in Anglo-Saxon cultures a medical doctor is addressed as Dr. Elisabeth Smith and written as Elisabeth Smith, M.D., here it’s perfectly common to have several titles fastened to the front of an experienced physician’s name. If she teaches she may even be Univ.-Prof. DDr. Elisabeth Smith. It’s quite a mouthful.
But the question of titles tells us a lot about what and whom we respect. Academic degrees in the humanities or social sciences may appear on a business card and a financial advisor or lawyer may address a Magister by her title, but in normal conversation it usually falls away. A medical doctor, however, is nearly always addressed as “Dr. So-and-so”. We respect doctors as healers, caregivers and experts, who help us preserve our most precious gift, our health.
Vienna’s medical legacy, particularly in the 18th century, is rich and honored, as we examine in Just What the Doctor Ordered and also in visits to the Narrenturm and Steinhof (p 43), both architectural monuments built, among other uses, for the mentally ill. To give an overview of health care in Austria then and now, we’ve compiled Quotes, Stats and Numbers (p 18).
Since 2014, Austria’s doctors have been protesting restrictions on hours, as the system struggles through realignment; accompanying a surgical resident on duty, we looked into the reasons and proposed solutions in our cover story In Sickness and in Health. But the business of health care is no less interesting: We followed the path of Big Pharma and how it fits into the Austrian economy. Another booming area of the health sector is “medical tourism,” with patients Traveling for Treatment particularly to CEE countries. We’ve crafted Profiles of the rector of the MedUni, the general managers of the FFG, a manager of special needs care and a pharmacist. And for expat parents to be, we’ve also written a short guide on How to Be Pregnant in Vienna.
From a personal side, a U.K. national relates a chilling tale of failed diagnosis at home and a rapid-response solution in Vienna, comparing the NHS with the Austrian system. Also, Vienna’s most prominent oncologist spoke to us about his vision for Viennese medicine in Beyond Money and Politics (p 17).
This month we have some fantastic culture and entertainment for you, as well as the best, newest and most loved restaurants, bars and venues to discover.
So don’t be shy. You may have started out with Sie for gnädiges Vienna, but I think by now you’re per Du. When you see your doctor, just keep it respectful. Fitting in is all about attitude, so embrace the titles and
don’t be a stranger,