This had to be done... There aren't enough cynics around

What's up, Doc?

                A recent trend in the virtual world of words seems to be paying tribute to professions. Make no mistake, I am not against a person telling everyone how a cop managed to return the laptop or a fireman saving a cat or even the odd heroic tale of a doctor beating the odds and lupus, but the sad thing is the trumpets are being blown by the alleged saviours in question. That is just a sorry want for approval. So here is my effort at taking the Mickey out of my profession (not that it needs special efforts). We stay clear of the malpractice and negligence issues because although we might defend our fellow docs, sometimes, sadly incompetence does creep in.

                You might have noticed some young innocent things proclaim on TV after finishing on top in the Memory Marathon that they wanted to become “cardiologists” and serve the “villages”. Without getting into the political issues, I place my argument on two points. Firstly, no medico knows his calling 3 months before setting foot into a med school, hell most don’t know that even 2 days before getting their degrees. And secondly, with the scenario as it is, and doctors also being humans who live in a society where success is gauged by your watch and your car, the village option isn’t so feasible to be deemed a “success” by the peers.

                The specialities are chosen based on an exam which tests your fortitude, memory and luck and reservation. AND not OR. So what happens is, the so called ‘easy’ subjects that pay more like Radiology and other end specialities are gobbled up first. Less lucrative, difficult fields needing more than hard work and more than dedication are all that is left for those who run out of one of the aforementioned traits. See the irony? Then you have the private colleges that take monumental fees and colossal capitation. But in all honesty, they stay in business because some successful doctors want their kids to be doctors too and there is only this much you can do when there are so many confounding factors in the ‘getting in’ process.

                In case you thought we spent our days in college plotting against cholera and fighting cancer, you are wrong. We did have fun. Agreed, we spend more time with the books than your regular student does, but that was more because of the fear of exams rather than an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. You think I liked reading Dr Park ramble on and on and on about mosquitoes and the nets and the committees that worked for the Indian Government? Do you think we liked mugging up the half lives of radioactive elements used in cancer? Do you think we liked being puked upon? Poking people? There is no “greater good” in our minds... We were just average blokes who wanted to specialize soon and get out there and live our lives because that’s the peer approved, society approved route to live.

                Being a doctor is just something one does for a living. A degree doesn’t make him a hero and his deeds make him human, not God. Saving a life is awesome and we do it because it makes us feel good (and of course pays well) not because we are sophisticated creatures that put others before self. A doctor cannot and should not expect reverence, because doing what he does, is his job and although it might seem it is the most important job in the milky way, in the right perspective, how is it better than the unappreciated life of the starving farmer who feeds us? We are a selfish bunch that takes pride in giving more than what we take and while working those long weekends and marathon stretches called duty, despite the physical hardships, we get a satisfaction-not just because we helped someone, but because we were able to do something that only a very few could.

                So the next time you pay your doctor his fee, think of him just as another fellow trying to eke out a living and not having him in a high pedestal leaves little room for disappointment on a later date. And doc, don’t think your white coat is a cape, it is your uniform... you can revere it, but you cannot expect your patients to follow suit. As long as billions remain cynical, curing millions doesn’t feel as good. Does it?

P.S: No medical post is complete without a reference to the Meredith “What would you do” Grey. Sleeping with your bosses is frowned upon in the Medical Profession as well... Just in case the Grey’s Anatomy (I know, offensive, sexist title) gave you the wrong idea.

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