Being Patch Adams…!

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This blog was published in KemUnited (the official blog of King Edward Medical University) on 9th March 2012.
 
By Farkhanda Qaiser
 
Thinking it to be just another lecture on ‘communication skills’ by some senior teacher, I headed towards the Mini Anatomy Lecture Theatre (which I later found out to be the demonstration room in DH). This workshop was being conducted under the auspices of “Kemcolian Akhuwat Club” which had found an ingenuous way of filling up the seats. Namely, asking all society presidents to send 3 of their active members. And since I happen to be QUITE an active member in A LOT of societies so I was representing many of them. But still I wasn’t really happy about this sudden interruption in my plans.
However my thoughts changed drastically after the 1 hour which was the duration of this workshop. Mr. Pervaiz Bashir – advisor to President of CPSP – was the convener. As is the style of motivational speakers (I dub him that), he started off by asking a simple question from the 40+ audience of medical students:
 
Why did you join this profession?
Almost one-half cited parental pressure as the cause while the other half passionately dubbed it as their own choice to serve humanity.
Then there was a chain of questions which were duly answered by the audience as whole. Some of them were:

Who comes to a doctor?

Ans: Patients.
 
Why do they come to a doctor?
Ans: To seek the solution to some physical or psychological problem that they’re facing. (I had the burning desire to say that patients come with their presenting complaint…! You see I’m an enthusiastic 3rd Year student who takes her wards quite seriously=p)
 
What does a doctor do?
Ans: He solves their problems. (Or in ward language, he painstakingly takes a careful history, performs the complete examination, suggests investigations and plans a proper course of treatment)
 
Thus it was established that a doctor is a problem solver. Yes you better be good in solving issues. Whether it be at home, among siblings or among friends. Like it’s said in that famous movie, Patch Adams: Talk to strangers, talk to wrong numbers. Talk to everyone. Develop your communication skills because they will serve you best in this profession. P.S. There’s no need to take this so literally. If you know what I mean =)
 
At this point you might be weighing the importance of medical knowledge versus this art of communication. Undoubtedly, you cannot be a successful doctor unless you know your Last, Guyton, Robbins or the dreaded Katzung. However the need of the hour is to ask yourself, is that enough? Is that bookish knowledge enough to satisfy your patients? Would the books teach you how to deal with a beleaguered parent whose only son has become paralyzed waist down due to an RTA? (Sorry, wards talk again, it means road traffic accident) Would they inculcate in you the passion to become a doctor just to serve humanity? Many a times, it’s difficult to hold onto that passion when you’re passing through a hard phase. You’ve failed 5 pharmacology tests, missed half of the lectures, got repeaters in major wards and are cursing the moment you chose to do MBBS. You curse Munir the attendant for having picked your proxies or shut the door of the lecture theatre when you were just half a minute late. You curse your class fellows for being the ultimate thetas that they are (Yes, everybody experiences this during the Prof Season). You curse the supply in Anatomy that took away half of your year. In short, you’re passing through the worst experiences anyone could imagine. In this scenario, you’d probably slap someone who even dares to say that medicine is a noble profession and should be dealt as such. Because for you, it’s a nightmare in so many words.
 
From where would you get the motivation to continue? The answer to this question was one that literally shook me for a moment. I’ll be coming to that shortly.
 
So have you ever thought who decided that you’ll become a doctor one day?
You? Your parents? Your excellent grades in Matric/FSc or Olevels/Alevels? Your good luck?
 
No, none of these! It was the ultimate authority in this universe who decided your fate! Allah Subhanawata’ala…! He says in the Holy Quran that He provides shifa to the people. Doctors are merely his vicegerents doing as He wills. Infact there are only two branches of knowledge that are discussed in the Holy Quran: Ilm-e-deen (knowledge of the religion) and ilm-e-ibdaan (knowledge of the body). Thus it’s such a noble profession that it found a place in the holiest books of all times. We ought to feel privileged at being given the opportunity to study the human body – the creator of which is Allah Himself.
So firstly, the science of medicine itself is a wonderful science or as I say (Magic with Medicine) and secondly, the doctor who practices that science is doing a great service and will be rewarded as such. This can be explained as follows: As Islam tells us, Allah loves us more than 70 mothers which in Arabic is a way of saying, unlimited. Just imagine how much our one mother loves us. She cries at our pain; sacrifices her sleep when we are ill; fulfils our needs without being asked to and loves us without any strings attached. Now multiply this love and care by 70 or unlimited…! We cannot even begin to imagine how MUCH our creator loves each one of us. And when one such creation of Almighty Allah falls ill, he comes to us – the doctors. If we deal that patient with the due respect and care he deserves, he’d definitely remember us in good words and give us duas. Moreover, Allah would be happy with us too because we alleviated the pain of His loved one whether by medicine or simply by good behavior. So if we just think about the rewards that our profession bestows on us, we would never need any other motivation to carry on through thick and thin. After all, with rewards comes great responsibility…! (Well yeah, the doctors’ version of Spiderman’s punch line).
 
However, we’re not fulfilling half of our responsibility, if we don’t pursue the ART of medicine as well. The communication skills involved in dealing well with the patients; listening to their problems; providing them a shoulder to cry on and being their friends is what completes a doctor. This brings us to a pyramid about the grades of a doctor:
Doc
Good
Best
Excellent
Outstanding
Extraordinary
 

We can be good doctors only if we try to be extraordinary. If we try to appease all our patients, we might be successful in satisfying a handful. But in the end, it’s the effort which matters and not the result. So our ultimate goal should be to become a complete doctor who practices both the science and art of medicine and treats his patients with the due respect that they deserve. This is the call and need of the hour and it is time enough we realized that.

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