I am Your Doctor ! I am trying to help you ! Please Do Not Attack Me !
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This letter is in response to the ever increasing incidences of attacks on doctors and health professionals by the public/mob. In the incidence, a young Senior Resident was attacked by a group of patient relatives. In the attack, the young doctor lost the vision in one of his eyes and was in ICU for days. Now the young doctor feels humiliated and unprotected. In this letter, the author is trying to express his anguish and frustration like many other doctors. He/She wants to stay anonymous.
This letter is addressed to the dear public.
this letter is addressed to you. I am a doctor for last 15 years working in rural areas. I have dedicated my entire youth and middle age for the service to the poor. But today seeing how the doctors in the govt. sector are treated by you, I feel helpless. I am an ordinary person who is trying to do his best to make this world a little better for the neglected ones. But I feel helpless seeing the problems and dangers our young doctors are facing. Through this letter, I want to reach you and make you understand the sacrifices that a doctor does so that he can be of use to you.
We want your respect & appreciation.
But we do not want your bricks, sticks that you use to give us broken nose, broken leg, broken hand and most importantly a broken spirit.
I hope that you will read this letter and in the end say a genuine thank you to your doctor and pledge to keep him safe.
(For the kind information of the public)
What does it take to be a Doctor or a Health Professional in India?
Agree or not India is a country of poor. There are millions of people devoid of education and medical care. At the same time, due to an ever increasing population, the strain on the resources are extreme. This strain is also applicable to the process of being a doctor in India. We doctors know it, but let us state the points for the general public to know:
- To be a Govt. doctors a student preferably needs to get a govt. medical/dental/health professional seat.
- One needs to get a rank out of millions of students trying for it. If you do get a rank then welcome to the medical college. Many students in their dreams to be a doctor attempt the exams for 4 to 5 years and then clear the exams. So, before even starting their education half of their youth is over.
- After entering the college starts the grueling 5 years of books, patients & exams. In a govt. medical college the average OPD per day will around 5000 minima. So, there is not even the time to have some proper fun.
- By the time a medical student reaches the final year, he/she would be working minimum 12 hours a day (excluding the classes and exam preparation).
- Many professionals in other professions will claim that they also work for 12 hours or more. But imagine working this long for people who are ill & emotional and also imagine trying to reduce their pain- anxiety. On top of that majority of these people will be poor and illiterate. A medico not only needs to treat them but also explain them everything about disease and medicine. The poor patient have to be explained when and how to take the medicine? Imagine doing this counseling for thousands of patients every week. That is more than the number of calls a BPO/Call center worker takes in a whole month.
- Once the young doctor reaches houseman ship, many might think things will get easier! But on the contrary, it gets even harder. The responsibility increases 10 times more. The young intern is bombarded with cases in all the departments he/she is posted. It’s true that it is the time to learn and most of the interns take up the challenge to improve their skills of diagnosis and treatment.
- In all these efforts, the medico is now nearing 30 and he/she still needs to plan his/her career ahead.
- Then starts another herculean effort to crack the entrance exam for post graduation. Among thousands of medicos, dental surgeons, and health professionals, only 2 % will get an entry into Govt. post graduation.
- Once you gain entry into post graduation then the game just gets more intense. During my post graduation days, I had worked for around 15 hours every day including night shift. The logic that went around was being a PG it was your duty. Pay was minimal but till that time there was no monetary motivation for most of the doctors. It was the will to do some good and being appreciated/respected for your efforts.
- Then the doctor (PG or General practitioner) finally gets into the professional career as a doctor for the Govt. All the new recruits (who are also known as Senior Residents) are drafted to some of the poorest and remote areas you can think of. Places where it is a luxury to find electricity, water or even a toilet. But the young govt. doctor adapts to those conditions and starts providing his/her services to the poor. Can you please tell me how many so called engineers or other professionals go to these rural areas in the beginning of their career? Most of them just want a good salary package or go abroad. Where is their social responsibility? Don’t they have any responsibility towards India? Is working to help the poor section in India only the responsibility of doctors and few other individuals?
- In all these years at the Govt. set up the doctors/dental surgeons and health professionals are always at risk of contraction diseases like tuberculosis / HIV from patients. Why? Because of the huge number of patients every day it is simply not possible to carry out screening tests and proper medical history for every patient. If you are posted in the rural area then there are no kits or facilities to do these tests. You need to treat the patient putting yourself at risk.
- The doctor to patient ratio is dismal. As per official statistics, for every 5000 patients, there is 1 doctor/health professional. Can you even begin to imagine the workload on the doctors/health professionals?
- What is the pay for all these life long efforts? After all, the doctor also needs some dignity and finance to run his family. The salary is average that will keep increasing with experience. But it is nowhere near his/her friends who are earning 5 times more working half the time at some air conditioned MNC office.
So, in spite of:
- all the long years of studying (around 14 years in total),
- very limited pay in comparison to others & difficult conditions to work in (govt. doctors are most susceptible to contract infectious diseases from patients)
- staying away from home in some remote area with no basic comfort.
- getting transferred from one rural area to another.
- carrying out duty to help others irrespective of whatever situation or emotion a doctor is in
- sacrificing family life and much more
“Why do you think Govt. doctors still keep doing their duty?”
“What can possibly be their motivation?”
I guess you are still trying to comprehend all the points mentioned above.
Maybe you are trying to be in denial that it takes that much efforts and sacrifices to be a health professional.
Maybe you are thinking they do it all to earn money.
Maybe you think that they chose this life and it is their duty to do so.
Whatever be your thoughts, it really doesn’t matter. We doctors do not care what you think.
The only motivation for all the young & old doctors working all over India in tough conditions have is to provide care to the people who need it. To do something good and make a positive impact. They take pride in providing a good treatment.
Finally, the biggest motivation is to be appreciated and respected for their efforts to help unknown people.
(By the way how many unknown people you have helped till today? Ask yourself)
Money as a motivation comes secondary just as a means to run their own family.
And believe me, there was a time when the public (rich and poor) respected the govt. doctors. They understood and appreciated the fact that someone is willing to stay in their remote undeveloped locality to provide them the health care.
But sadly, in my last 15 years of career as a Govt. doctor, I have seen this respect now been kicked into ground. The appreciation has been buried.
The patients do not give a hoot about the efforts a doctor is putting.
They do not care if a doctor has left all the comforts of a comfortable private hospital and has decided to help them by being at their remote location.
Whatever a doctor may do, you the patient just think that we are doing it for money.
And as for money, we have very little compared to the work & sacrifices we do every day.
The appreciation and respect were the only two points driving many doctors like me.
But, those points are long gone.
I may be in the middle of my career but think about the young doctors who have just joined the govt.job as doctors. They are eager to serve the public.
But if you keep attacking them, making fun of them and belittle their dignity then that day won’t be far when no talented young doctor will be willing to join Govt. job and serve you in your remote area. And do not expect the doctors who are doing well in the urban areas to come to your rescue.
Dear public, only a young talented doctor who is willing to make his/her mark as a doctor will be eager to come to a rural or remote area.
So, it is for your best interests to treat such young doctors with respect so that more and more young doctors will be motivated to join the Govt. Service and provide health care to your remote area/village.
But, if you keep attacking doctors then, job or no job, no doctor will be ready to serve you.
At least they will not be attacked. At least they will not lose an eye or a hand in the attack
At least they will not suffer the pain or the humiliation.
At least they will be mentally and physically fit to look for their employment in some other safer environment.
Yes, this change is not going to happen overnight. Overnight doctors will not leave your area and you will feel all is ok. You will feel there are so many doctors! Someone will come! But every change is always gradual. Neither public or the govt. should take doctors for granted that some doctor will do the job as they have no choice. It’s true you will get some to join but you will lose out on many other talented doctors.
I have seen and felt a growing dissent among young doctors.
They question me why to take so much stress, sir? What’s the point when we are scared someone will beat us up anytime within the hospital and go scot free? What if we damage our limbs in the attack?
I can see the fear creeping into minds of these young doctors!
But every day they fight this fear, wear their apron and reach the hospital to help the public.
That’s what doctors do.
So, dear public I end this letter with an appeal to help and support young doctors who choose to help you.
Make them feel that your appreciate their hard work and sacrifice.
Before I end this article, let me state some points:
- I am a Govt. doctor for past 15 years with vast experience in working in rural areas all over India. I have been to rural areas where you would not even find proper roads. So, I am well experienced and within my capacity to explain the situation.
- This post is not about blaming anyone. Not the govt. or the public. This post is to raise awareness for doctors and also in public for the safety of the doctors.
- When I mention doctors in this article for convenience, I am also referring to allied health professionals who work in the rural area along with the doctors. Without their help, no doctor can even last a single day professionally in the remote areas.
I hope that you go through the complete article and form your opinion.