A physician’s highest accomplishment  is the capacity to relate

July 9, 2021 0 By FM

The practice of medicine is not a trade but an art. It is not a business, but a job to be discharged with compassion. A professional person is, in essence, one who provides a service. It is a service that wells up from the entire complex of her/ his personality.

 It is the physician himself who chose to enter an arduous and demanding profession, with established values and traditions of ethical conduct and responsibilities.

It turns out that this service has no price.

If one does not have the quality of integrity, he/she is worthless, while those who have it are priceless. So do not try to set a price on yourselves. Do not measure your professional services on an apothecary’s scale and say, “Only this for so much”.

Like love, talent is useful only in its expenditure, and can never be exhausted. Set what price you must on your service. But never confuse the performance, which is great, with the compensation, be it money, power or fame, which are trivial.

The patient comes to see a physician with faith, hope and expectations. He wants to be listened to so that his fears and concerns can be fully expressed and the burden shared. Patients expect compassion, understanding and competence. They want to be informed about the diagnosis and prognosis. They want physicians to be interested in them as fellow human beings and not as unusual cases.

Patients often assume that all physicians upon graduating are equally competent.

Unfortunately, many physicians are so busy with their practice that they do not keep abreast of newer developments in their fields. Many a time, it seems that continuing medical and dental education reaches our physicians only through medical representatives when they come to sell their products.

The availability of the physician is also important.  

To sum up, as a good physician, one must have integrity, intelligence, ingenuity, initiative and one should be inquisitive, innovative, industrious and incisive, and of course there are the three As – ability, availability and affability.

Let us not forget that the highest accomplishment of our professional lives will reside not in the perfection of our knowledge and not in our superlative clinical skills, but in our capacity to relate to other human beings who are our patients.

If every physician follows Dr Charles Mayo’s creed, many a problem in patient management will be solved:

“To imagine the kind of doctor I would like to have if I were sick, and then to be that kind of doctor he was.”


Author is Diplomate in American Board of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Former Member, Governing Council, Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupathi