(An open letter to the young Indian Doctor)
The campaign started by the young doctors has gone viral. Much has been voiced by the junior doctors in the hot seat as well as policy makers. As expected from an educated community, the voices of passion are balanced by those of reason too.
After watching the unfolding events and debates, here is my Save the Doctor (from) wish list for you-
From Present day Medical Education– A system which while training the MBBS doctor constantly undermines the very degree by devaluing primary care and moving training to tertiary care paradigms.
From the Consumer Market– A market that has created both the present day Doctor and his patient- consumerist by instinct, impatient by nature.
From the politics of this country– Where vote bank protectionism may take reservations even up to super-specialisation, where ‘minority institutions’ cater more often than not to the ‘poor little rich’ minority.
From the Unreasonable Society: Which expects their children to become doctors and rake in the moolah, while expecting their neighbour’s child to be the altruistic self sacrificing individual.
From oneself– Who buys into the constant hype and expectation from family and society, starts putting oneself on the same illusionary pedestal, fostering a sense of misplaced entitlement.
Doctors, don’t just ask for symptomatic treatment here. The systemic intervention required to correct this anomaly won’t come without pain. If recent history tells us anything, it is not to expect NEET solutions for complex issues. You can’t wish away the underlying reality which has created the public dissatisfaction with the Medical Profession. Think about it, even in this campaign, of the 95,000+ supporters, there is quite a number who got into the system subverting it and will continue subverting it irrespective of the outcome of this campaign. While putting campaign statements, every once in a while some introspection (evaluate the manifesto and the claims made therein clearly) will add value and eventually strengthen your cause.
As for service, serve you must- that is the very nature/ cornerstone of our profession. Of course it works best when the motivation is from within.We are a democracy- where we have rights, we also have duties. Irrespective of how this campaign pans out, our responsibility towards the less fortunate (all patients in one sense and the likes of the ones who we ‘learnt on’ particularly) is a real one. Do not paint the entire rural service experience with the same brush, just as a bitter pill to swallow and get it over with- there are aspects of personal and professional satisfaction which has become a way of life for many.
Save the Doctor Indeed- you have started a campaign which has captured the imagination of the Nation-listen to all the voices, even those discordant with you (there are some wonderfully articulate voices out there). Do not lose this opportunity to build a responsible, forward thinking, empowered community of doctors. When we look outwards for healing, remember-Physician, heal thyself (first).
Good luck and Godspeed.
Radiologist and a curious Watch doc.