March 1st 2015. I was dreading this date ever since the start of my internship- October ’14. Not because there was something super important or super scary about to happen. Okay wait, it WAS super scary- My ER rotations started on this day. And Lord knows I was not looking forward to it.
My fear/apprehension was primarily because I didn’t know anybody from the medical college and I’m super awkward socially, no really, SUPER. And second, I didn’t understand why 2 weeks in the emergency room was required for a dentist, considering we won’t have on calls and night shifts, or sickly sick people for that matter. Nonetheless, it was mandatory and there was no way I could trick my way out of this one.
Come 1st, I was nervous and agitated and tense. I didn’t know anything or anyone and it was a brand new world. As the days passed, I eased myself into the process, being ahead of my counterparts and in my opinion, faring far better (sorry guys, somebody had to say it). In 15 days, I befriended amazing people who burn with the passion for medicine, and unfortunately also crossed paths with “doctors” who wouldn’t spare a second thought to a patient. And trust me, there were a lot of them. And the reality is really, really sad and scary at the same time. It was the 11th day of my rotation, and I was on the first day of night duty. I remember it was around 3:30 am when me and another intern went upstairs to get some shut eye in the duty room. In less than ten minutes, there was intense rapping on the door and a sleepy female struggled her way out of bed to answer- the bhai had come with a ‘distress call’. (I still don’t get my college’s concept of a handwritten, hand-carried distress call). The doctor who attends the so-written call has to sign their name, write “noted at *whatever time*” and then take whatever course of action they must. In this particular doctor’s case, her course of action was waking the others up and arguing over who is going to attend the distress call. After 15-20 minutes of “not me, you” and “If I take this one, I don’t take ward calls”, somebody did the dying patient the ehsaan of attending them with her presence. And this is just one of the many incidences.
What makes me sad is that these people slave their lives away only for a prefix in their name without any attached meaning or responsibility. You’re a DOCTOR, for Pete’s sake, it is YOUR JOB to attend these calls, and that too, running. And if you really want to take it easy, please, by all means, either join a paraclinical line or don’t be in this faculty at all. I might be nobody to comment on this, considering most of you don’t even consider dentists as doctors, but if that is really the case, you’re no doctor yourself. And I am GLAD I’m not one because at least I don’t have the responsibility of people’s lives in my hand.
Gone are the days when people aspired to become doctors because they genuinely wanted to make a difference. Now it’s all about social status and money. I’m not saying there aren’t any genuine doctors anymore. There are, but only about a handful. I don’t know about other countries, but this is what it is in India. I will not blame the education system alone for this, I will also hold the need for people to be “socially elite” as equal contenders for why the situation is the way it is. The bookworms get all the clinical branches like surgery, medicine, anesthesia etc., while the clinically sound ones end up on second place. The entire system is messed up. And to top that, we have the pressures of society, which screws with this field even further.
On another such occasion, I remember doctors from the ER sending out 4 distress calls for 2 separate patients, and no doctor showed up until after more than an hour. And all they did was make notes, and leave. I mean, WOW. W-O-W. I was filled with anger and immense disgust for these people. And these are the people who advertise their degrees like some sort of achievement. Yes, it is an achievement, but apparently a failed one for you, my friend.
Gone are the days when there were doctors like our fathers, our grandfathers, who dreamt of becoming doctors because they wanted to help people. Turned into dust are the days of passion for medicine, where doctors treated patients with the same kind of care they would treat their own. Lost is the time when the Hippocratic Oath meant something. Half a month was all it took for me to realize, understand and fear the future of medicine. I’ve always hated doctors, but that hatred has changed face and become surprise. Because what was once a respected profession has now become the most widely abused one. And its really scary because everybody has visits to hospitals, and we put our trust into these hands which we don’t even know.
How safe are we from the kind of people who only care about the financial bit of the job? The answer: We’re not.
One can only pray.
“And when I am ill, it is (God) who cures me” [Quran, Surah Ash-Shu’ara, 26:80]