|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 214-215
Is the society in india envious of its doctors? A doctor's perspective
B Sadananda Naik
Alva's Health Centre, Moodabidri, Karnataka, India
|Date of Submission||14-Sep-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||19-Sep-2020|
|Date of Web Publication||23-Oct-2020|
Dr. B Sadananda Naik
Alva's Health Centre, Moodabidri - 574 227, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
It is very disheartening that society in India which has a long history and tradition of revering its medical professionals is slowly and steadily becoming indifferent to them. This is a write up on this issue from a doctor's perspective.
Keywords: Doctors, Indian society, medical profession
|How to cite this article:|
Naik B S. Is the society in india envious of its doctors? A doctor's perspective. APIK J Int Med 2020;8:214-5
Although this question was haunting me for a long, a recent media report of a politician's statement triggered this write up. This man was vehemently claiming that most of the doctors in India are from rich and affluent backgrounds and that the purpose of their choosing the medical profession was to amass more wealth. My immediate thought was that perception like this could come from only a sick and prejudiced mind. But then, I realized, he is not alone. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people across various sections of our society appear to be having this mindset. Hate speeches, damaging and derogatory statements against doctors have become a daily affair. Fortunately, this mindset is not very common among the economically poor and oppressed sections of society, who are in the majority and who always look up to the doctors for help when in trouble.
All over the world, civil society has its own perceptions, ideas, prejudices, and expectations of their professionals such as doctors and teachers, based on their own culture and ethnicity. India is no exception to this; Indian society having been known to revere their professionals. However over the years, the perception of the society in India toward medical professionals seems to be changing. There could be several reasons for this change. Somehow, sections of society in India find it difficult to accept that doctors could actually lead a life of reasonable comfort. This is basically due to the ignorance and inability of these sections of society to recognize the years of hard work, dedication, sacrifice put up by healthcare professionals in their professional life, and the education preceding it. This innate intolerance surprisingly seems to extend only to the members of the medical profession, while the same society seems to be very kind and appreciative of politicians, businessmen, real estate tycoons, and film stars with their meteoric rises and falls. These groups are in fact often considered as model entrepreneurs for the aspiring young generation. However, the doctors who succeed against all odds are labeled with choice words such as looters and bloodsuckers. The same society which hails doctors as angels when they are in need, will not think twice to nail them as demons if the outcome of the treatment does not go their way. This mindset surprisingly is not new. The origins could be traced to ancient times, as evidenced by this Sanskrit saying, “Upadyayascha Vaidyascha karyanthe nishprayojakaha ” meaning that teachers and doctors are of no use once their work is done.
Unlike the Western world, in India, doctors are the only face of hospitals for the patients and are therefore held accountable for all the miseries of the patients in hospitals. Any negative news on doctors is highlighted, and the society is quick to portray them as villains. In any case of alleged medical negligence, the media and politicians are quick to pounce on doctors without even going into the details of the case. Of course, they subsequently appear “too busy to respond” when an inquiry finds no substance in the allegations against doctors. Again, it's the doctors who take the blame for the exponentially inflated medical bills in corporate hospitals, even though they get a miniscule percentage of what is ultimately charged to the patient. The society which is very keen on emulating the western standard of health care sans the cost.
Some sections of Indian society create fantastic images of doctors akin to heroes in the movies, expecting them to always treat the poor free of cost with no care for earning their own livelihoods. Another odd component of this image is the expectation that doctors must always be immaculately turned out, using flashy and expensive cars for their commutes. This mysterious perception has been reiterated time and again during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. An unfortunate reality is that doctors find no place in the list of professionals receiving financial assistance and monetary benefits announced by the Union and State governments, which list included media persons, lawyers, and others. Doctors have been silently asked to be content with claps, lamp lighting, and petals showered upon them from the sky. The same society which wanted interns and medical students to work as COVID warriors is very silent when it comes to paying them and never in history one can find the Indian society standing up for the medical profession and its doctors. The same society which approves of the rise in transport rates, fuel rates, house rent, or government taxes, seeing them as unavoidable and necessary, finds it unreasonable when the doctors raise their professional fee. It is an oft-heard aphorism in the medical community, that when a doctor starts earning and plans to get married, his classmates in school who chose other professions would be busy in finding alliances for their children.
Unfortunately, the mindset of close relatives and associates of doctors is no different when it comes to vilifying the medical profession and professionals. They eagerly share news clips and videos showing doctors and hospitals in a poor light, hardly, if ever, acknowledging and appreciating the good deeds of the members of the medical profession. Such sections of society euphemistically redeem themselves using occasions such as Doctor's day as a tool of their own acquittal by forwarding meaningless greetings. Doctors are soft targets to cover up administrative lapses and inefficiency of the state health machinery; politicians and social activists build up their image by pitting the public against doctors and hospitals. A few years back, a Bollywood celebrity made an utterly insensitive and damaging statement in a reality show on the usage of ventilators by doctors in ICUs saying “…Ventilators are money making machines for hospitals and doctors …” It's ironic that the same society who which took pride in applauding him as a torchbearer of the truth, is now urging the governments and hospitals to procure as many as ventilators amid the COVID-19 scare.
The very society which expects doctors to protect their lives never thinks of protecting its doctors. Liberals and intellectuals who speak of human rights violations in the treatment of rape convicts and terrorists remain mute spectators when a hospital is vandalized, or doctors are beaten up. While such news of public vandalim on hospitals and doctors is received with equanimity, the news of severe punishment for the perpetrators of heinous crimes is mourned.
All these raise a pertinent question which lingers in the minds of doctors: Are the people of India at war with their doctors? Could all these be seen as manifestations of a deep-seated frustration, with its origins possibly in childhood, with the many difficulties and reverses people face in their daily lives? Among some, could it be even a sign of a lingering innate disappointment at not being able to become a medical graduate himself/herself, despite being talented and academically good?
Another disappointing development to add to the woes of the doctors, coming from within, as it were, is the “surge” of so-called “wise” doctors who have passed their prime and have retired from active clinical practice. These “enlightened souls” have suddenly taken up the mantle of cleansing the medical profession by way of their public pronouncements, their YouTube videos, and a generally excessive presence on social media, mostly pointing out the negative side of things rather than the opposite. The Sanskrit saying “Vriddha Naree Pathivrithaha” (a satirical saying, people become virtuous only when aged ) suits them the most.
Admittedly, the entire doctor population is not a tribe of saints, there are black sheep in the medical profession as well. In fact, it is worrisome that this number is on the rise. It is perhaps these greedy people who have inflicted damage to this great profession. Slowly and steadily the best of the brains are opting out of this humane profession and joining other professions where the societal backlash is not so oppressive.
But all is not lost, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. The sight of gratitude of a patient, as he stands with hands folded and a tear in his eye is enough to forget all the tiredness and emotional injuries inflicted on a doctor. Such images act as a tonic to boost the morale of doctors to carry on with the profession which they revere the most despite adverse conditions and a growing vicious atmosphere. There is an urgent need for the society in India to introspect and act before mental trauma and other woes take their toll on the medical profession.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.