What had intrigued me for a while is the question as to why are there are so many “Super specialties” and “Super Speciality Hospitals” existing in some countries and not so in some other parts of the world. In many countries, “multi specialty hospitals” exist and I have no problems with that.

My understanding thus far had been that specialties such as Neuro surgery, Plastic surgery, Cardio-thoracic surgery as well as others are essentially “SUB” specialties of General surgery (surgery in general). But then, how did they metamorphose into “SUPER” specialties?

The answer perhaps, can be traced back to around the time the large private sector hospitals made their appearance. As newer and newer sub specialties emerged and got established, some hospitals acquired the services of specialists from these sub-specialties and came to be called as “super speciality hospitals” . Thereafter, other smaller hospitals and institutions followed suit.

The reason for preferring the term “super” over “sub” appears to be for marketing reasons. The term “Super” is certainly more attractive than “sub” from a business point of view. The word “sub” is commonly equated by the lay public as something “inferior” or below par. For example, ‘sub standard’, ‘sub inspector’, ‘sub junior’ and so on.

Moreover, by this time, the public had been exposed to things “super”- such as, “super stars”, “superman”, “super markets”, and “super bazaars” etc! In this scenario, these hospitals would have hardly preferred to claim that they were providing “sub specialty” services! Thus, the term “super” appears to have entered insidiously and got firmly established. Obviously, no one else bothered to point out the inaccuracy. Everyone took it in their stride. Why would anyone object if someone called them “super”?

Now some may feel why this should bother anyone?  As a business tactic I concede, it is perfectly harmless. But this has led the students in some countries to forget that the so-called “super” specialties are in reality “sub” specialties of general surgery. Hospitals and even universities innocently follow this. All one has to do is to connect to the internet and type “super specialty courses offered by universities” and hit ‘Enter’. Are there any benefits for the students in all this except perhaps that prospect of joining a “super” specialty course certainly appears to inflate their egos more than really necessary!

Today, “Hyper markets” have surpassed “Super markets”. Are we likely to see “Hyper specialties” and “Hyper-speciality hospitals” in the near future?

About the Author: Dr. Aroon Kamath is a retired general surgeon from Father Muller Medical College, Mangalore, India as an Assistant Professor. He loves to teach, write for medical blogs and conduct medical quizzes.  He can be reached at: [email protected]

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