It was not for nothing that the great Hippocrates had to prepare an oath for the medical professionals. He had that foresight of a visionary to discipline the health care providers with certain bindings with respect to the society and its people. He had to promulgate the goodness of the profession and for that he had to strengthen one of the pillars of it – the doctors, being a part of the community and not above the influence of the ills of the society. The fraternity, till date, has the uniqueness of not only being labeled but also has the faith as second God in major quarters of the society. We treat the infirm on the merit of their illnesses only and not on the basis of region, religion, caste, creed, influence, affluence, severity of illness, acquaintance etc. We can’t practice this profession like others with the help of rules, regulations, guidelines, and codes. This is one profession where rationality is of paramount importance and there is no place for hypocrisy, sycophancy and obduracy. The long years of teachings, long hours of struggle with the disease, the emotional attachment with the patients, the never die attitude and the joy of caring nurtures the goodness in doctors. We are a part of miracle many a times and also a symbol of hope in despair situations. Though we have often been pressed hard, sleep-deprived, worked tirelessly, worked without holidays, vacations or weekends, but this profession has given us a meaning to our life. The simple thought of trust and faith reposed in you by your patients actually let you feel blessed. The nobility of the profession can only be judged by the hope with which the patients enter your chamber, the belief in you while surrendering self for any interventions, the eternal happiness he gets after being ameliorated of his illnesses and the blessings you get from him. The gratification which a doctor gets by curing a patient of his illness is unparalleled and can’t be compared with any other types of gratification like money, appraisal, name or fame for self, arrogance, complacency etc. We need to nurture that gratification in us.
Despite being one of the noblest professions of a civilized society, it is also not immune to the idiosyncrasies of any profession. The highs and lows of any profession are also true for this profession. The exaltation of the birth of a child by a cesarean section to the abominable female foeticide by inadvertent use of diagnostic tools, the joy of getting a transplanted organ to the miseries of a wrong amputation, the rescue from an acute abdomen to an uncharitable removal of a healthy uterus, use of acumen for relieving the stress of a person to misuse of investigation and procedure for the same are all the two faces of the same coin. The allegation of plagiarism, bigotry, fee splitting, bias, callousness has done no good to the cause of the medical fraternity. We can’t shirk away these allegations as mere rhetoric because we do know that these ills really prevail in our profession, even if in a miniscule way. We can’t turn a blind eye towards the black sheep amongst our brethren who are responsible for the downhill course of this noble profession. Having said that we are also aware of the fact that unwarranted mud-slinging and vitriolic attacks in various forms have become the norm of the day apropos our profession and its professionals, the society need to look more pragmatically at us. In an era of accountability, propriety and the rights issue we need to change our thinking process and should not behave like an ostrich that put its head in the sand thinking it has avoided any imminent danger to self.
The good, the bad and the ugly of this profession will remain there because mankind is also divided on these lines. But as noble professionals we need to shift more towards the good side than the ugly one. Though we are not God and don’t think ourselves as God but we need to behave godly in literal terms. We should not only have the acumen of a therapist but also must have passion, compassion, sensitivity, patience and tolerance of a giver. You must have seen doctors doing a burn or a maggot dressing despite horrible stench of the wounds which the relatives and others can’t stand. Recently, surgeons and anesthetists at a remote hospital struggled with the life of a patient during the earthquake when everybody else deserted the operation theatre. We have seen doctors doing selfless service at times of disasters at the site against all odds. We have read about the sacrifice of the lives of the doctors in imparting healthcare to the sufferers of the epidemics, most recently being H1N1 and Ebola. We need to change the ugliness of our profession towards goodness by setting such examples for the society.
The majority still finds the profession worthy of an emulation sans the length of study, the loss of personal freedom, brick-bats for a dedicated care, the constant scrutiny by people and media, the lesser than deserved remunerations and finding it difficult to stand as an apostle of God as believed by people. These are the very reason when actually fewer people are adopting medicine as a profession these days and the world is continuously getting bereft of medical professionals. The trend is unhealthy and needs course correction at the earliest and we have to be an integral part of that exercise.
Despite all odds stacked against the profession, medicine is still one of the noblest of professions. We need to repose faith in the youths of the society to adopt the profession without thinking about the bad and the ugly of the profession and focus only on the good aspect of it. The goodness can’t be suppressed by any means, temporary setbacks being momentary. The ugliness can’t sustain, the temporary glorification being momentary.