Practicing medicine alone doesn’t make one a doctor

September 5, 2019 0 By FM

Medical science and practice have undergone tremendous changes in the last few decades. I have seen it in my forty-five years of oncology practice that the medical profession, treatment methods, medicines, technologies, success and survival rates and even the social outlook on care have changed dramatically every decade. All these have significantly improved for the betterment of care. Research and development in the area of drugs and devices have resulted in providing extremely good support to our practice and much better outcomes as well. There is no doubt that all these changes have made a very positive impact on the world of care and tremendously benefited the patients.

But one thing that has not changed is the patient. The patient is still the same, and their emotions and feelings are the same as it was a decade or even half a century ago. They still look up to the doctor as a saviour who can save their life and they want his or her care with a personal touch and warmth. They look forward to the empathy of the doctor as they are in pain or disturbed because of their disease. 

It is sad that this sentimental or emotional element is missing in today’s practice to a great extent. Doctors hardly find any time to spend with their patients. Many of these modern-day practitioners are not even aware of how to deal with patients who are in agony. They have no time to chat or even smile at the patient.

Perhaps, the serious attitude of these modern doctors is a byproduct of the work pressure or a different set of professional priorities. The other reason to ignore this side of the patient care could be due to the sophistication that has come into the practice of late, with the changes that I discussed earlier. Perhaps, new generation medicos haven’t seen the old days where doctors used to struggle in their work with few support systems and limited technologies and medicines.

This is not an acceptable or ideal situation. A doctor shouldn’t be someone who just practices the skills and knowledge that he learnt at college or books, but someone who understands his patients well from clinical and emotional perspectives as well. And if that is not the case, we need to reevaluate the current training system, which probably doesn’t give much importance to the personal side of care.


Author is Consultant Oncologist at Jaslok Hospital, SL Raheja Hospital & Research Centre, Breach Candy Hospital & Research Centre, Asian Institute of Oncology, and Sushrut Hospital, Mumbai

­— As told to CH Unnikrishnan