The Sunny Side of a Medical Profession
You know, watching Grey's anatomy, (ER if you still remember that), or even the hilarious House, I couldn't help but wonder if the general perception of doctors or medical professionals have somewhat been grossly misrepresented? Unless you believe everything you see on TV. God help you.
First of all, TV won't be TV if it is not dramatized. It won't sell. Even documentaries in Discovery channels had been "dressed up" to appeal to our insatiable appetite for the dramatics. Studies have shown that this overindulgence in constant stimulation and hyper-excitability is responsible for the surge of ADHD in children, and I am thinking adults alike too. Anyway, I digress.
Doctors, well, at least the ones in Malaysia, are a different breed. We are a little more subtle and low key in general. Some may even accuse us of being a tat too laid back. We are just easy going lah.
However, that doesn't mean we are push overs. We bend backward and forward whenever our beloved Ministry of Health decides to introduce something new, be it politically driven or not; we make noise but soon found ourselves conveniently pacified with a generous pay rise. We lament about the quality of our young house officers and worry more than their parents for their future well being & career development, but what else can we do but complain. No one's listening anyway.
And people like me who flee public service and join the "dark" side are faced also with our own bundles of predicament and sleepless nights. We have issues of difficult and more demanding patients who think that money buys their absolute well being. Even death is not an option or even conceivable because "we are paying for specialist care". And it doesn't help too when insurance companies are breathing down your neck watching and interfering your every decisions from diagnosis, treatment to the length of hospital stay. Some days, I just want to attach a little post-it that says: Why don't you take over? You are apparently the best doctor for this job!
I can't of course. Tempted as I was.
They pay the bills.
Anyway, I don't work for them. Could almost hear Whitney's all time favourite: ...They can't take away my dignity!...playing in the background.
At this point, I am sure some counterparts may argue that though private practice may have it's issues but it pays MORE than bills. Yes, I agree that private practice has its sunny side too. But you know, with great power comes great responsibility. With greater wealth? Well, generally, greater need to sustain the wealth. How many rich folks would be just contented with their first million? O, we'll just retire now and join the crusade. The appetite grows bigger. Soon, one Ferrari isn't enough. You need Bruce Wayne's Lambougini for the wifey too. And perhaps throw in a conservative Porsche Cayenne for the in-laws. I know, I am drawing blood here. But you get the idea. It is never enough.
You decide though. Been at it for just about too long to hate it yet not long enough to develop the galls to leave it. I have bills to pay. Children's education to plan. The list goes on.
But if you have to come back to the core, then it will have to be this:
What is it all about?
For my job. It is about saving lives. Sure there are a lot of ungrateful parents out there that would still be unsatisfied even if you offer to pay for their medical bills and God forbid, hand them your car key. No, I am exaggerating.
But you KNOW that you know when you have made that crucial decision:
THAT, just saved the life of the child. I survive and cling on to that. My sanity depends on it.
So is this THE "Higher Calling"? I am not sure, actually. I would think of myself as a seeker, still stubbornly looking out for that something.
You know, the kind of thing that says: Only you and you alone can do this. You are designed for this. It's YOUR destiny. And people's life are better off because of that. Does medical profession do that? Yes and No. Yes, because some days, you save lives. (Most days, you just work like a donkey!) No because it doesn't have to be you. There are tonnes of Paediatricians out there that are equally or more qualified than you.
Anyway, I am here at the moment. You will just have to make do.