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“We Stand Today to Reassure Our Patients That We Care” – a Letter by a Doctor to Every Patient

Passion and compassion are the defining qualities of a doctor. If passion is ambition then compassion is purpose.

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It is said, the end goal of education is knowledge, and goal of knowledge should be service. Great Teachers are founding stones of medical education. Today we commemorate Doctors Day for those teachers who went beyond their call of duty to inspire, teach and help discover your own passions and directions within you.

To discover and to teach are two distinctly remote qualities seldom seen coinciding in academia. This day reminds us doctors to recognise those personalities, who in their own unique way manifested this fusion to influence lives of doctors. It is them who light in us the spark of curiosity to explore the unknown, to discover our talents and groom our skills beyond limitations of talent

I was once at a medical school and giving a talk addressing the 1st year medical students. During this interactive talk, I asked a few doctors why they chose medicine. Not surprisingly, among the common answers reflecting their collective thoughts were –

  1. Build a hospital and serve the society
  2. Research and make a difference to science
  3. Practice and serve patients
  4. Become a teacher, and serve the students

Money did not find its mention in any of the discussions. Naturally, they shared their deepest goals and paths to fulfilment.


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I then shared with them an interesting old Chinese story that inspired me a lot about a Doctor –

‘Long ago, there lived a man with three sons, who all became doctors, but only the youngest son became famous throughout the land. Patients from far and wide, considered to be beyond hope, would go to him and be cured.

Someone asked their father, “All three of your sons are doctors, yet how come only the youngest has become so famous?”

He replied, “This son of mine can cure people even at the point of death, so naturally, everyone knows him. But my middle son can detect and cure sickness before it grows too serious, so there are only few who know him. And my eldest son takes such good care of people’s health in community level that they rarely get sick at all, so he remains unknown.

My youngest son’s name may be better known than the other two, but I believe the skill of my other two children is equal to, if not far greater than, his.”

I concluded saying, a doctor needs a fraction of each of these qualities. To cure, to detect and to prevent. While there is a great zeal of interest and enthusiasm for clinical subjects, the true impact a doctor can make is to help people maintain health and prevent disease: a true hallmark of a doctor. We are presently innovating illnesses and then further innovating, to solve those man made innovations of illnesses.

“Health care” is often confused with medical care. Medical care is only a part of health care and comes into picture whenever there is deviation from health. Health care is treating the cause and not only the effect where Illnesses form only the tip of the iceberg. A healthy society should have less illness and less hospitals and our goal should be to have a healthy society.  Health care innovations thus need to break the conformal barrier of restricting to technological innovations but also seek to address the social determinants of Health through innovations.

One among them asked me – Which branch of medicine do I take up? Which branch has a good scope today?. Well,“I don’t know- don’t ask me” I replied. “Ask yourself, forget about the scope that markets decide, look within where you will create scope, based on understanding of suffering of patients, need for medical help and geographical patterns of illness.  As you continue through your journey of education, you will several times come across a subject, a chapter or a topic that speaks to you. It is as though, an old friend has met you after a long time.

You instantaneously connect with this subject. In no time you realise it seems like a premonition of destiny. This becomes your driving force!

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Through my training in medical career I was inspired and touched by several teachers. It is a teacher who identifies talent in you and it is he who can impart skills to you beyond your talents. Most often than not, we dislike a subject, not because it was uninteresting, but possibly because, he who taught us could not incite and ignite the spirit of enthusiasm for that subject in our barren minds, and not because a subject is uninteresting.

My teachers played a key role in inspiring me in this quest to find the meaning of medicine in my life. It is said- “God allows a U turn”. Shri Sathya Sai Baba’s super Speciality hospital at Puttaparthi where I volunteered inspired me immensely. It was the only medical centre perhaps globally without a billing counter, yet providing state of art treatment without discrimination of any sort. I saw the finest spirit of human service in this hospital and in their operating rooms. This, I must say, was one of the most inspiring events and turning points in my life to identify my purpose.


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Passion and compassion are the defining qualities of a doctor. If passion is ambition then compassion is purpose. When they meet, they are a lethal combination. When they meet together at some point in your life, something within you changes forever, and marks a beginning in your making of a doctor. If passion is ambition, then compassion is purpose. If passion is the power, compassion is the underlying force.Passion defines the intensity and compassion the inclusiveness in your service. This combination permits a doctor to work with a spirit of service blended with zeal and curiosity to solve a clinical problem, thus creating a recipe for discovery in medicine. It infuses a pure sense of artistry into medicine! A doctor who fails to use this creative thinking and intellectual daring when faced with a clinical problem, would not stand the chance to change the textbooks and questions that baffle science.

The greatest discoveries of today will be considered the biggest blunders of tomorrow. The greatest proof of imperfection of modern medicine lies in the fact that medicine is making continued progress. It is only imperfection in a true sense that could make progress towards perfection. Doctor is the bastion of this imperfect science, which is ever evolving. They gloom with this distant hope that health will reign beyond disease, while keeping the darkness at bay for their patients.

With a sense of deep responsibility and love for our patients we stand today to reassure our patients that we care. Rendering a special note of thank you to our nurses, staff and above all our patients for whom we strive.

 

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