North Melbourne GP Dr Graham Pelham’s small silver stud earring is undermining his fledgling medical practice, his patients have reported. Worn out of habit and an attempt to affect a personal style, the accessory instead produces slight unease in those who encounter it. “Perhaps I’m a bit old fashioned,” says former waiting-room regular Ava Wellington, “but it does seem to make him look a bit desperate. This young man replaced Dr. Gordon, who retired. Such a nice man. I don’t think he would have approved of this sort of thing.”
Graduate student Sara Asquith was surprised at her own adverse reaction to Baldwin’s lone accessory. “On campus, I’m surrounded by people with piercings all day, and I like to think I’m pretty broad-minded generally,” she said. “But it just looks really daggy and creepy on a guy like him, like an ageing sad-ass making a token effort to stay funky. I’m surprised he doesn’t wear a novelty tie as well.”
The doctor himself is unaware of the jewellry’s negative consequences. “I started wearing the ring when I was still in med school, about 1993, and I guess I’ve just never taken it out. It’s like a beard – you tend to forget it’s there. Some of the older patients might think it’s a little vulgar, but for the rest it just makes me look a bit more accessible” he declared erroneously.
While the Australian Medical Association has no official guidelines on doctors wearing items of decorative accessories, it does recommend against the wearing of earrings by medical personnel on the basis of having seen former AMA President Brendan Nelson’s earring.
But Dr Pelham’s woes see no signs of abating. Asthma sufferer Nahab Sanjalijawan is just the latest patient to seek a second opinion. “He was just explaining how to use my new puffer, and I was thinking that he seemed very courteous and professional. But seeing that thing gave me other ideas. It made me think that he was some kind of pill-freak or sex offender. Either way, I wasn’t taking off my shirt.”