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The Image of a Doctor

By: drtaher Verified Member MouthShut Verified Member | Posted Jun 05, 2009 | Ruminations | 494 Views | (Updated Jun 05, 2009 01:15 PM)

Most readers on this site are not doctors, and it is to them that this diary is addressed. I am a consulting pediatrician by practice, but to most people who know me on the net, I am, quite simply, a doctor. The normal person, especially from modern India, and from big cities in particular, thinks that a doctor is like "God" to them. However, we doctors think otherwise.

We see countless examples of patients who should have recovered, dying, and who should have died or ended up with complications, recovering completely. Thus, to my way of thinking, doctors are merely those artists or craftsmen who know the structure and the working of the normal human body, and they have, by learning, picked up the ways to right something that has gone wrong with fellow-humans.This completely contrasting way of thinking has happened because the average layman has not much exposure to medical knowledge; even if they can surf the net and read up on medical matters, that information is just the top layer of information, and the layman is hard put to decipher the facts behind each fact, and to then take an informed decision based on the same.

At the same time, there is a set of people who have a warped opinion of doctors, no doubt based on their personal experience, or having read somewhere or the other, that doctors are only there to fleece the patient; that they are crooked businessmen who will try to squeeze the last penny from the patient because he/she knows that there is no one else who can save their lives. This image of a profit-seeking doctor has evolved in the last one hundred years or so when living standards of doctors have gone up markedly, and their expenses have mounted so much that they are surely going to charge their patients more to treat them. In our own country, this rise in charges has been even more marked in the last ten years, because of the rising cost of medical education. A student spends anything from 1.5 to upwards of 50 lakhs to become a specialist; often, he has to spend even more to go abroad for further studies or observership. After this, it can cost anything from 5 to 100 lakhs or even more for the specialised doctor to buy his clinic/hospital premises and the equipment therein. The spread of my costs is so wide as there are villages, then small towns, then large ones, then small cities and finally metropolitan cities.

To earn that kind of money in medical practice is very tough, believe me. And it is even more difficult if one is honest and caring as a doctor (I firmly feel that more than 80% of all doctors are benevolent and not cheaters.) Thus, the newly qualified doctor tries to do everything - legal or quasilegal or illegal - to get back the money he has invested in his education and purchase of clinic or hospital premises. This is, from the point of view of the doctor, surely fair, as quite often, he/she has to take high interest bearing loans to meet his/her needs!Thus has evolved the new, tarnished image of a dr. in India.

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