Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Doctors' Day!

Happy Doctors' Day, guys.
Yes, March 30th is the National Doctors' Day, proclaimed by Bush Sr. in 1991. To "recognize our Nation's physicians for their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury...".
Perhaps a day for us too to reflect on things, and to be thankful. To be grateful to have survived the 11+ years of medical education. The 40+ hours of being awake (well, now restricted to 30 or less). The 100+ hours of work a week. The  huge personal sacrifices many of us have had to make. I know many whose marriages could not take the stresses of residency. Or colleagues who had nervous breakdowns. The tears and sweat we have shed. Or having to miss vital family events (my one sore regret was to not be able to attend my grandpa's funeral). Or the humongous financial cost; I have my parents to thank for shouldering my medical education which for many costs upwards of RM 600,000.
Yes, we have been through a lot. And we continue to fight numerous battles. But as I bid this wish to my colleagues, I sadly realize too that many outside our ranks would not feel the same about us. After all, the public's perception of doctors these days is that we're all rich and deserve no other gratitude. That we place money above our patients. That we are all in cahoots with the drug companies. That we think so highly of ourselves. We cannot be trusted, that the advice one finds on Wikipedia or somewhere else on the Internet is more reliable than that given by A Doctor. I realize this reading the public's comments on news websites whenever there is a breaking medical story. You realize that many people out there hate us.
I cringe to think about what many of my patients would think. Do they think I make money whenever I prescribe a (vital) expensive medication? Or that I get a monetary cut when I order a CT scan of the adrenal? Perhaps they think we all sleep with leggy drug reps. Or own stock in drug companies. I don't think I want know.
And so, on Doctors' Day, I shall quietly say thanks to the powers that be and to my family to have let me come so far. I will humbly share the day with my colleagues plodding away at work. No need for fanfare. No need for celebration.
For I sometimes doubt we really do deserve it.