I am a Doctor. Yes, the same person who pledges to save lives and help all those in need, no matter what, when I take my Hippocratic oath. I’m here to help, always. No time is too late or early to call me when you’re in need of a doctor. We understand a human life’s worth, at least enough to rush to make things alright for a patient to the best of our abilities when an emergency arises. This profession was once considered to be the noblest of all. But not anymore.
Now, as the times have progressed, the people and generations have evolved; so much so that they have started suspecting and doubting the abilities of the very same people who they would have blindly trusted a couple of decades ago. Yes, I’m talking about your very own local ‘God’ as many people may call us. The society has started thinking of us as money-minded and evil, thus, wanting to pull us down at the first chance. All this because of certain misconceptions and lies that many of the people, including millionaire movie stars (read- a certain Mr. Khan; who by the way, haven’t an iota of idea about the prerequisites of our profession) of the South Asian subcontinent, especially here in India, have perpetuated. A stigma that encircles an entire profession. Albeit, what’s actually true is quite contrary to this belief.
One prominent cause for the inhumanely attitude that doctors go through nowadays at the hands of pea-for-brained hooligans is the widespread Internet accessibility and all the false/partly correct information available on several so called ‘medical’ websites, which give away tonnes of garbage masquerading as correct knowledge which has no basis in medical science whatsoever. The remainder of those who still believe the contrast of it, deem doctors to be literally ‘Saviors’ or ‘Messiahs’ or even avatars of ‘God’ themselves, thereby having God-like expectations from us which no man could ever fulfill, regardless of gaining any amount of knowledge.
Today, let me enumerate a few of the things that public should understand and remember with respect to any doctor-
1) The amount of toiling put in by people who want to be good doctors and the years required to reach a sustainable career stage takes a much longer route for us. This can be evident by 5.5 yrs of MBBS (of which minimum percentage to pass any college exam is 50%, which is separate for theory and practicals; higher than that required for most other professional courses) + 1-2 years of preparation for getting a competitive postgraduate (MD/MS/DNB/Diploma) seat + 2-3 years of post graduation + 2-3 years struggle for ample work experience = At least 12 years to become a good physician/surgeon. All other faculties including Engineers finish their academic tenures in at the most 7 years. Therefore, do not dare to disregard our hard work at any cost!
2) Doctors constitute the topmost intellectual brains that India produces. After all, we deal with matters of life and death and the pressure that comes with it. Not to mention the enormous work loads and subsequent stress. So if the IITians and IIMians can earn 7 figure salary on just passing out, it is clearly justified for doctors to command a decent fee, which by the way consists only 4-6 digits, after studying the most i.e, 12 years after HSC.
3) Medicine is not as simple or straightforward as mathematics. Our medical professionals deal with very complicated system called ‘Human body’. Every human being is unique. It’s not like working with machines or computers or a bolt and nut physics. A physician can face a totally new complication even in his 1001st case of heart attack. A surgeon can face a new abnormal anatomy even in his 1001st case of a Gall bladder surgery. It is a complex science with lot of grey areas, overlapping signs and symptoms of thousands of diseases which can have any amount of atypical presentations and complications. Again, not to mention the new diseases which keep surfacing frequently. So, difference of opinion is normal.
4) No doctor will willingly harm you at any cost. Some complications are part and parcel of the disease processes and related procedures. They are not totally in our control and neither can they be predicted whether they will happen for sure or not.
4) Medical science has yet not conquered death. Even doctors and their family members die due to some or the other disease. We too are humans. NOT GOD.
5) In India, the health scenario is such that the private sector caters to about 75% of India’s healthcare needs. Here, one cannot expect services for free. It needs to be chargeable to be a sustainable system. If the public imposes laws to lower the charges, the service quality will suffer accordingly, and then there won’t be any use crying over spilt milk.
6) Lastly, looking at the way the society has degraded us, we doctors are still the least corrupt professionals as compared to the lawyers, police, judiciary, the govt. servants, the big and small businessmen and so on.
Now, you may say that if being a doctor is such a noble profession, then why don’t they give services for free out of their goodness. Well, before I answer that, let’s picture the following scenarios.
Consider that today onwards-
– Hotels shall feed 5 star food to all poor or hungry people completely free, in case of emergency.
– Cycle industry would donate brand new cycles to the needy or poor school children.
– Fruit sellers will give free A grade quality fruits to all malnourished people whenever they ask for it.
– Pharmaceutical companies will give free medicines to the diseased whenever they ask for it, too.
– Railways shall provide free travel to poor people in times of their emergency.
– 10% air tickets would be free for those who cannot afford.
– All high quality garment brands will give away free clothes to the poor.
– All sweet shops will give free sweets to poor school children
– Free travel for the poor in luxury and ordinary buses.
– Free advertisements in newspapers and TV channels for even roadside sellers and poor vendors.
– Free petrol and diesel for poor people with debilitated vehicles.
– Free shoes for poor kids from branded shoe showrooms.
– Free schooling and food in top boarding schools of the nation for poor students.
Insane, right? Do you think any of the above is ever going to happen? Of course not! Everyone wants to do business and not charity. Everybody, be it rich or poor wants to earn money to suffice for the family, their needs, and their luxury. Then why is this free work is expected only out of doctors. Why? Don’t we have families to provide for? Don’t we have our own expectations and fetishes? Why should these compromises be expected out of us only? Did you realize that even the country’s mightiest soldiers on borders don’t work for free, not even out of their patriotism! All of this is only because people have perpetuated a myth of doctors’ ‘Godliness’ and ‘Holiness’. We are humans too, and we need a source a sustenance as well.
Also, do you think that these people who run varied businesses are giving you the worth of your money? Unfortunately not. Let me burst the bubble for you today-
People buy a Re.1 cool drink for Rs.10, not to mention the extra rs. 2 for refrigeration which hardly costs few paise.
People buy a Rs.1000 worth cell phone for 25000, again not mentioning the accessories which you’d buy separately.
People pay Rs.80 for a Saravana bhavan ghee dosa which may have required only 20-30 bucks worth raw materials.
People pay Rs.10000 for a Pattu saree whose cost price is just 2000.
People pay Rs.200 for 1GB data of Internet for smart phones, not including other value added services you take per month.
These don’t appear as ridiculously exorbitant to you?
Let me tell the public the reality of running medical centers out loud today!
Hospitals are not such a kind of profit making businesses. It is an establishment. An establishment to serve people.
The minimum requirement for a basic hospital set up in an average town with ER and OR set up [1500-2000 sq.ft Land+ construction+ basic equipments & infrastructure] = Rs. 2-3 Crores i.e. 20-30 Million Rupees i.e, approx 0.3-0.5 Million dollars, when corresponded with average rate of American Dollar to Indian Rupee. Please notice that this estimate is not for any Metropolitan city, where the now estimated prices would shoot to double or even beyond that.
So tell us, if we’d hypothetically accept the proposal of people to provide totally free health care or even at discounted rates, and want to start a fully charitable private hospital of top quality, would anybody give away his land in a thriving area for free in order to make it? Or even sell it to a doctor at a concessional price? Can anyone can lend capital money indefinitely to a medical professional without interest? Is an engineer willing to make a construction for free or at least a concessional price for a hospital? Or if any government is ready to provide subsidies for the establishment of a hospital since it treats the sick and poor for free? Or even any company is ready to provide the medical equipments and infrastructural materials for free? If so let me know please. If you think we doctors make too much, calculate the maintenance costs of the buildings, equipments, hygiene, workers’ pay, record maintenance and so on and compare our earnings if at all you want to point fingers. Because when a doctor earns, it not his money only. Health care is a team work which requires the shares of benefits to be distributed. If you think you’re only paying one doctor or one hospital too much, you may be overlooking the crucial roles played by nurses, ward boys, domestic helps, technicians, ambulance drivers, etc. at any given hospital. Why don’t people understand that like any other establishment, hospitals too need a huge investment & maintenance? Why don’t they understand that no money is too much for quality health care? Going by the age-old saying ‘Health is Wealth’, realize that its a matter of your own health. You cannot afford to make doctors take this matter lightly by paying them peanuts for a life and death job.
Take home message-
Like farmers and soldiers, for the services we doctors render you by sacrificing our family time, happiness and sleep, you cannot really pay us by anything for saving your life! All you can do is abide by your doctors’ instructions and learn to respect and show some, too, to your doctors who try their best to protect you & your loved ones in times of dire need. If at all we doctors would take offense and go on a nation-wide strike for any amount of time, and you would happen to need us right at that time, who otherwise would you rely on if you down trod us this bad? Realize and think twice before you criticize a medical professional or his services provided to you. And if some doctor doesn’t do his job well, seek another one, but don’t spoil the name of an entire community for a few handful. They are not our representatives. Please understand that Doctors are just as human as you yourselves are, and a mere tool in the Almighty’s hands and NOT GODS BY THEMSELVES.
Dr. Aafreen Kotadiya