Howl of psychiatrists

*Article information*
*BMJ. 2002 Dec 21; 325(7378): 1498.*

Why is it that you can see a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, and other such delightful collective terms, but only a boring crowd of journalists, historians, and doctors? In fact, one uses the same collective term, “crowd,” for all sorts of doctors.

I propose a new set of collective terms for doctors. This list is a rather subjective choice, but I have tried to use terms appropriate to each specialty.

I have borrowed some terms from the animal kingdom because they are appropriate or are alliterative.

Thus, we have a *pride of surgeons*, for a group (there we go again) of doctors who are not known for their modesty, yet are aggressive, adventurous, and brave. Often, they are the kings of the hospital as well.

Appropriate use of alliteration allows me to adopt the term *gaggle of gynaecologists.*

Some terms are based on words specific to that specialisation. In the laboratory you may find a *culture of microbiologists*—an appropriate term for a quiet, decent, cultured set of people.

A *rouleau of haematologists* is the correct term for bloody minded physicians who study that wonderful fluid connective tissue, blood.

A *synapse of neurologists* is fitting for mathematically minded medics who converge, say, at a conference to exchange new ideas.

Presenting symptoms provide some other collective terms. Hence, a *howl of paediatricians*, for doctors who make often brilliant diagnoses from the mere crying of a child.

Likewise, your chest may be auscultated by someone from a *consolidation of respiratory care physicians*

A *rash of dermatologists* needs no explanation.

Similarly, a *stream of urologists* is fitting, even though the chief complaint is often that there's no stream.

Other collective terms are a *Gray of anatomists*(not to be mistaken for the unit that radiotherapists use),

A *flap of plastic surgeons*,

A *joint of orthopaedic surgeons*,

A *g(l)ut of gastroenterologists*

An *apron of nurses,*

An *orbit of ophthalmologists.*

Finally, the term *parliament of pathologists* is fitting for a profession who, like owls, have to be wise. Besides, the preference for “p” makes it poetic, something that Gregory F Hayden (Alliteration in medicine: a puzzling profusion of p's. BMJ1999;319:1605-8) would appreciate. It is, of course, a mere coincidence that the author of this piece is also a pathologist.

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