Saturday, December 13, 2008

Medicine a calling and not just a career? Really??

Dr Lee Wei Ling is back n the news with a letter addressing the above issue. But she is right this time.

Medicine is a calling. Sadly for many doctors, and medical students, it has become nothing more than a career. Many doctor friends counsel their children never to take up medicine, believing that this is no longer a satisfying and fulfilling career option.

This shift in our value system has been due largely to the national push for commercialized medicine. This strategy, articulated in the late 70's at the very highest level of our government, steered us smack down this full speed. Medicine was to be one of the major pillars of our economic growth. But we can't really deny the economic sense this strategy made. It is just that the philosophy was totally wrong. It was another nudge that increasing turns us into little more than mere economic digits.

Can our lives...can doctoring be denominated just in terms of a dollar value?

But there are broader implications, and associations of this very materialistic philosophy that we need to be aware of, and concerned about. This has far wider implications.

a] The commercialization of medicine, and the strategy of establishing us as a medical hub, is in itself not necessarily wrong, but it has caused every doctor to begin to evaluate his/herself in terms of the dollar value of their contributions. There are few who are strong enough, and clear enough about their personal value system to withstand this constant and very public pressure to excel in dollar terms.

b] Medical education, is increasing being subverted by this intense pressure for our students, not to become good caring doctors, but famous award winning clinician researchers. Nobel prize anyone? I you really want your family physician to be a Nobel prize laureate? Yet the medical school is increasingly diverting must needed teaching resources into research laboratories, and losing valuable educator positions to scientists with long credentials but cannot teach.

Good teachers are increasingly belittled as dinosaurs, and new staff who care little for students clamour for attention and public acclaim. *sigh*

Who are their role models? No more the humble GP who gives his life to serve the community, but the attention grabbing stem cell clinical researcher.

c] The gradual corruption of the medical ethos will be seen in the the increasing pressures to 'bend' morality and ethics to serve mammon. Observe the increasing pressure to push the medical profession into serving the organ trade, ....and euthanasia perhaps...?

What can we do to stem the slide? Precious little, I am afraid. Another example of the slippery road to self destruction? Perhaps.

Dr Lee Wei Ling, will you be our flag bearer to reclaim the noble values in doctoring?

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