People who decide to become medical doctors need to make several sacrifices. The training to become a doctor is long and difficult. Furthermore, it does not end with school because doctors are required to learn about new problems and advances in the field of medical science for the rest of their lives. However, there is a positive side in becoming a doctor. It is not just about learning complicated procedures and going through rigorous training. Being a doctor means that a person is required to nurture the positive fundamental characteristics of the human mind. Doctors have to be truthful, both to their patients and their patients’ relatives.
They need to be above discrimination. If a doctor practices medicine with a correct attitude and respect towards the oaths taken, that person has an opportunity to develop all positive qualities of a human being and improve people’s living standards without sacrificing their own. Becoming an expert in the field of medicine is a long process that will turn away most people, particularly because doctors gain their abilities exclusively by practicing on other people. “The moral burden of practicing on people is always with us, but for the most part unspoken” (Gawade, 2003).
Besides the moral burden that is created by practicing on others, when their lives might depend on the doctor’s skills, doctors need to constantly keep up with the advances in the field. In addition, they need to adapt to different patients constantly. Even if there are no advances in the medical field, the doctor must always remain flexible and accept that something unexpected might happen at any given moment. Atul Gawade (2003) states that the incredible pace of advances in medicine do not always keep up with the advances in human conditions.
A doctor could encounter a new condition which he knows nothing about. On the other hand, he could also encounter a well-known condition, but in different circumstances. This will also affect the course of the treatment. However, the biggest obstacle in medical education which many, or even all, doctors will fear is the practical part. Surgeons for example, can practice their skills without an actual human body only to a certain extent. When they need to perform an actual surgery, it is no longer practice and a critical mistake can be destructive or even fatal.
According to Atul Gawade (2003), the amount of practice is the only variable which separates the best performers in any discipline from the average performers. When it comes to the amount of practice a person must go through to master certain skills, surgeons are not in an enviable position. When violin players, chess grand masters, and other such occupations practice their craft, nobody’s life is at risk. “There is one difference in medicine, though: it is people we practice upon” (Gawade, 2003). The surgeons, and doctors in general, need to improve their skills and knowledge while practicing in real life situations.
There is no room for errors in medicine, but this is not possible. Errors are bound to happen occasionally because each situation which occurs in medicine, the most unpredictable occupation in the entire society, is different. Even with all the current knowledge available, a doctor is liable to make a mistake which could cost somebody health and possibly even life. Although it is not socially acceptable to make a mistake in medicine, people in the medical field are not gods. Everybody is fallible as long as they are human, so doctors should not be treated differently.
Even though patients depend on doctors when they are ill, the doctors can only do what is in their power. This is another great burden the doctors feel. The pressure of their patients’ expectations and the expectations of their relatives are always another burden to a doctor. When this situation is combined with the fact that every patient is different, and what had worked before on a different patient may not be applicable to the current patient, the doctors find themselves in a dilemma between their past experiences and the current situation. “The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists.
And this gap completes everything we do” (Gawade, 2003). Atul Gawade (2003) describes medicine as a science of remarkable abilities which can manipulate the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology, but he also shares his discovery of medicine as a “disturbing business” for the doctors. The stakes are high and the outcome is always uncertain, Doctors understand the fallibility of medicine more than anyone else. They also feel doubt occasionally and experience both failure and success. Gawade (2003) claims that medicine is an imperfect science which is constantly evolving and changing.
Although doctors see every possible condition repetitively, they always see it anew because all patients are different. Patients develop the same condition under different circumstances. With this in mind, the doctor has to be constantly aware, confident, ready for improvisation, and approach every patient as an individual. Although this much obligation, particularly when human well-being and life are involved, will certainly turn off many people from the medical career, this is what makes the field of medicine special and interesting for many people.
Doctors are not just working with their patients, but they are also developing and improving themselves constantly. To work with people and cure them, they need to develop creativity, intuition, and a deeper understanding of the human body and mind than any other field can provide. Doctors have an outstanding opportunity do develop important human attributes such as compassion, empathy, and honesty. In addition, doctors need to take the oath which says, “I will remember always that within each human life is a person who can feel pain, as well as comfort and happiness” (Robinson &ump; Parker, 1995).
The doctors strive to remove the pain and help the patient attain the comfort and happiness. The doctors will need to observe both sides of a person’s life – happiness from cured patients and pain from patients with incurable disease. Living and working with duality, dealing with both sadness and joy in life, will provide them a deeper emotional experience and a better experience of life than any other profession can provide. Doctors need to be above all forms of discrimination and they need to vow that they “will not be affected by race, religion, nationality, financial or social status, or sexual orientation” (Robinson &ump; Parker, 1995).
This vow could be applied to all people, but the doctors have the opportunity to observe and obtain an objective mindset. Medicine itself, as an objective science, does not discriminate. Drugs, medical procedures, and diseases do not discriminate people based on race, religion, or nationality. With this in mind, the doctor must not discriminate because he knows that objective truths and scientific reason works without fail concerning everybody. Doctors have the ability to learn at first-hand that although people are different in appearance, they all feel pain and happiness.
They all die from serious illnesses and they all benefit from correct treatments. Finally, being a physician is a great honor. “Honor the physician with honor due him, according to your need of him, for the Lord created him” (Ecclesiasticus 38:1). Although this does not allow the doctor to act as God, it does signify the importance of doctors for the society. Society needs to function as a whole, but only people with a healthy body and a healthy mind will be able to create a functional society.
Doctors can be considered as people who are preserving a functional society by preserving and healing people’s physical and mental conditions. There are several difficulties in the medical field. A mistake in any other field would not carry such a burdensome effect because no other field is so closely connected to human well-being and life. However, according to Carola Eisenberg (1986), “What we do as doctors, most of the time, is deeply gratifying, whatever the mix of patient care, research, and teaching in our individual careers. I cannot imagine a more satisfying calling.
Let us make sure out students hear that message from us”. In the final part of the UCLA medical oath, the doctor states, “In being true to this oath, I will preserve the finest traditions of medicine and science, and enjoy and conduct my life, my profession, and my art to the fullest” (Robinson &ump; Parker, 1995). Doctors do not give up their lives to help others. Doctors swear that they will live their life and art to the fullest. And there is no greater satisfaction in life other than when a person lives both his professional and personal life to the fullest.