BY: DR. NUMAN MAJEED, LECTURER/ M.PHIL TRAINEE, ZIAUDDIN UNIVERSITY
We are also human beings…
“Doctor tou farishta hota hay”. We often hear these words. But sometimes, we also get to hear the following “doctor to dako hain, qatil hain, zalim hain…”
Is that so? Are we angels or devils?
Is it the profession that has these qualities or the person himself? Often, while traveling I hear stories from people with concluding remarks that doctors are there just to make money – they are devoid of humanity and empathy, and this profession is that of ‘criminals’.
I have a simple response: when you go to buy a cell phone and the shop owner gives you a fake one, you never badmouth the shopkeeper. When we travel in taxis and autos, we don’t protest when they overcharge – no one does. So why are doctors targeted?
I once had to get my documents attested from the notary public. It took the attesting person only twenty minutes to do the job and he charged me Rs.800. Naturally, I was a little bit surprised. When I voiced my concern, he said “hum to itny myn hi karty hain!” Oh, come on! Rs.800 for 20 minutes of twenty stamps and signatures? When that same person comes to a doctor and the doctor charges Rs.500 for an effort of fifteen to twenty minutes – which includes a complete examination, medical history, and discussion, he accuses the doctor of over-charging. Why so? Is it the fault of the system, or the society or the doctors?
Is the doctor so bad? Or is the person in the white coat bad?
I do agree that there are some doctors who are not empathic enough, and we often hear them arguing that we were not like this but we became what we are. The government is responsible for it; the system is responsible for it. We do M.B.B.S. in five years, followed by one year of house job (mostly unpaid). Then we once again bury ourselves in books to pass our F.C.P.S., PLAB, M.R.C.P., USMLE etc. This is followed by thirty-six, forty-eight and even seventy-two hours of duty during our residency, poor working environment, no infrastructure, low pays and the list goes on.
My question is this: does this give us the right to act inhumanely? Or to punish others for the misery that we are going through?
While conducting a ‘Problem Based Learning’ session for First Years, I overheard a student making a similar remark. She revealed that her family avoids going to doctors because they prescribe expensive medicines and unnecessary laboratory investigations that yield no cure. The other students laughed at her and asked why she still chose to pursue medicine.
Being a doctor is not an easy thing, given. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the world. A wise man once said, “Silver, no. Gold, naah. Diamond, no way… The most expensive jewelry one can own is a stethoscope as it costs you your youth, it costs you the most energetic and enjoyable part of your life.”
We burn our youth and out blood to become doctors, but I would say we are becoming ‘dakos’ not ‘Daktars’. What is the actual reason behind this? What is the root cause?
Greed and ego – “I am a doctor, I am superior” – are the worst enemies of a doctor.
I have seen a lot of doctors who charge only 40-50 rupees at their private clinics, and they are not merely ‘street doctors’ (or in desi wordings ‘gali-mohalay k doctors’); they are well-reputed doctors. One of the most famous orthopedic surgeons in Lahore charges Rs.50 at his private clinic. Why can’t we be as sympathetic and empathic towards our patients and treat them the way they deserve to be treated?
The second and the most important thing is our system of education. It is not just crippling the doctors, but also humiliating them. There is a deficiency as far as teaching medical ethics is concerned. Our doctors do not know what medical ethics are. None are aware of The Oath of Hippocrates of Kos (and its modern version), the Declaration of Geneva of the World Medical Association, The Oath of the Healer, our even own code made by PMDC and CPSP. These oaths, particularly The Oath of Hippocrates, and The Oath of the Healer is taken by graduating doctors at their convocations. But that is just a formality. These things should be taught and remembered.
I have heard many people saying there is no longer any respect for doctors in Pakistan. Is it really that bad here? I strongly disagree. The next time a police constable stops you, just say you are a doctor. He will not only let you go, but you will see the difference – “Sir ap jain”, instead of the usual “Oy kaghiz dikaho gari ke”. If this is not respect, what is?
It is you who is good or bad, not the profession. We are the cream of the nation; we are idolized by many. Breaking a queue, breaking laws, indiscipline – this is not what we are trained to be. We are supposed to be highly disciplined, refined, polite and gentle.
About the author: Dr. Numan Majeed is a lecturer and an M.Phil trainee at Ziauddin University.