What have we become? Mechanics commissioned to repair a machine called 'The Human Body? Monotonously belting out standard prescriptions and cannulating vessels carrying vital red fluids, are we plain robots? Highly respected as well as feared we emotionlessly and blatantly venture into a living system tastefully and painstakingly designed by a divine force we call GOD.
Have you wondered what a frightening experience it could be for a poor uneducated patient in a government or municipal hospital? Imagine yourself walking along the edge of a deep ravine blindfolded! That should give you an idea what a patient feels just before a surgery.
Desperately searching for a warm smile or a reassuring look, all he or she gets is a cold verdict-a grave prognosis. Surgery is inevitable and your only hope" is the statement and of course to be performed entirely at patient's risk.
Having braved various calamities in life, the wizened individual faces this acid test with calm equanimity. So does his family. After a brief discussion they show their willingness but have a few doubts." Doubts? What doubts? You sneer at them, snap at them and finally bully them into submission. After all, what is a patient but a valuable source of 'cutting'-a raw material for sharpening our operating skills; a playground for teaching and self-learning by trial and error?
The support staff of nurses and ward boys is equally reticent and aloof. It has been so many years in this service, in the same wards, doing the same stuff that they are now immune to the suffering that they witness around them. Irritable and overworked they rave and rant at the patients and their relatives (though occasionally relatives can try your patience) and show their anger by ignoring some 'over smart' patients who stand up to their inefficiencies. (Florence Nightingale must be turning in her grave!)
In the face of negligence there begins a popular game of passing the buck- Doctors pass it on to the staff and the staff ultimately passes it on to the patients. So the final word is that the patient is responsible for whatever adverse happenings and therapeutic misadventures and the Hospital for any successes.
Not far behind are the silent spectators-the reluctant workers known as 'Interns. Time and tide and INTERNS wait for no one! All blood collections, IV cannulation and catheterizations must be done within a couple of hours. Their future is at stake! They need the time to memorize books and solve MCQs for entrance exams. Ha! Who needs clinical experience?
The Bosses typically make a lot of noise and display a high-handedness-a defense mechanism to hide their own inadequacies. Many haven't touched a book for the past decade and are unaware of the latest advances in the field! Those who have the knowledge do not have the time to give such free service as MONEY not only makes the proverbial MARE but also the whole world goes around.
Day after day, this panorama unfolds before my eyes and I wonder, "Where are the people who gave this profession the tag - NOBLE? Where have they disappeared? We have the physicians and surgeons BUT where are the HEALERS? Tell me, when was the last time a patients pain and suffering moved you to tears? When last during an emergency having been woken up in the middle of the night, you have treated a patient with compassion (instead of cursing him)?
Learn from a firefly-which goes up in flames only to give light to others. It lives only for a night but the spirit of sacrifice...of selfless service lives on forever. Imagine a swarm of fireflies moving together in perfect coordination could illuminate an entire village!
It took only one man to spark a revolution; one spark to ignite an inferno. One seed of selfless service to humanity-if nurtured with the manure of KNOWLEDGE and COMMITMENT and irrigated with the river of CONSCIENCE could grow into a "KALPAVRIKSHA"-the mythological divine tree. A tree that could fulfill all desires-a tree that was the origin of the Paradise, the garden of Eden.
Let us all come together and become sensitive conscientious doctors and do ourselves and our profession proud. We can even now silence our critics and put the medical profession back on the altar of Nobility where it once reigned.
If we can do this, friends...Heaven on Earth may not be such an impossible achievement after all.